I was surprised and thrilled last Saturday at the Seattle University District Farmers Market at how much fresh produce is available this early in the season. Wow!
This particular farmers market is one of the few in the region that is open all winter. This past week there were sparkling bundles of tender chickweed, plump sunflower seed sprouts, tiny yellow flowering bok choy, sorrel, baby arugula, dandelion greens, and mint. I bought way too much and then had to quickly devise a few salads to use the bounty.
Although I didn’t see the Bluebird Grain Farms table, from which to replenish my dwindling supply of their most excellent Emmer farro, I had enough on hand to create a lovely textural and flavor pairing with tiny French green lentils. To these, I added some of the key components of a traditional Middle Eastern Tabbouleh salad: parsley, mint, tomato, green onion, lemon, and olive oil.
Then to heighten the flavor a bit, I sautéed diced, smoky chorizo sausage and tossed in red and green bell peppers . To that I added a bright Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette and my new stash of tender spring greens. Viola! A gorgeous and very tasty spring salad.
Early Spring Salad of Lentils & Farro with Chorizo, Bell Peppers & Baby Greens
This refreshing salad makes a memorable start to a special occasion dinner or a simple meal on its own accompanied by whole grain walnut bread. Although this is an easy salad to make, you will want to prepare the farro and lentils ahead, even a day or two in advance if you wish.
1 cup cooked Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Farro, or other farro (instructions below)
1 cup cooked French green lentils (instructions below) (Whole Foods carries these in the bins)
1 large Italian plum tomato, cored, seeded and diced (1 cup diced)
½ large green bell pepper, cored, ribbed, and diced (½ cup diced)
½ large red bell pepper, cored, ribbed, and diced (½ diced)
2 green onions, trimmed, and minced
small handful parsley, minced (½ cup minced)
4 mint leaves, minced
2 tablespoons cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish dried chorizo sausage, diced (about 2 ounces or ½ cup diced) (City Market in Portland, Oregon sells an excellent Spanish chorizo called Palacios; 4 small sausages per package for $8.50)
Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon wild flower honey
½ cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of two or more of the following: chickweed, sunflower seed sprouts, flowering bok choy, baby arugula, baby spinach spring salad mix
grated zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare the farro, in a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock or water to a boil and add ¾ cup of farro. Boil for 5 minutes, cover, and simmer for about 50 minutes, until the grain is tender and nicely chewy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again thoroughly and store in a covered container in the refrigerator until needed. (You will have about 1½ cups of cooked farro.)
- To prepare the lentils, in a large saucepan, add ½ cup lentils and water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still have some bite. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again thoroughly and store in a covered container in the refrigerator until needed. (You will have about 1¼ cups cooked lentils.)
- In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup each of cooked farro and green lentils. (Save the remainder for another use.) Add tomato, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, green onion, parsley, and mint. Reserve.
- To prepare the chorizo, in a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the chorizo. Sauté for a minute or less, until the chorizo is chewy-crisp and releases some of its fat (turning the olive oil red). Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve the oil.
- To prepare the Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon, and honey. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve the salad, toss the farro and lentil mixture with about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette. Season to taste. Place 1 cup of the salad in the center of a large serving plate. Repeat for a second serving.
- In a mixing bowl, toss the spring greens with a few tablespoons of the remaining vinaigrette and arrange the greens around the farro and lentil salad.
- Drizzle a little of the chorizo oil on each of the plates, divide the sautéed chorizo between the plates, and grate lemon rind and black pepper over each serving.
Makes 2 dinner salads or 4 appetizer salads.