Farro is an age-old staple of Italian cuisine and a healthy alternative to pasta and rice that can be combined with a wide variety of ingredients to make hearty one-dish dinners like this one.
As pretty to look at as it is tasty, this delicious fall farro salad is filled with a vibrant blend of sweet and savory ingredients that offer a balanced blend of rich flavor and contrasting textures.
Key ingredients for a delicious farro salad
First and foremost is the farro itself. We recommend using a pearled variety because it’s easy to prepare and quick cooking.
The other fall-inspired ingredients we picked for this salad feature a variety of flavors, colors, and textures. Read on to see why we chose them and get ideas for some alternatives so you can mix and match as you see fit.
- Roasted butternut squash: With its beautiful orange color, tender texture, and subtle caramelized sweetness, roasted butternut squash is a great ingredient for any fall salad. Don’t like squash? Try cubes of roasted sweet potato instead.
- Dried cranberries: We love the sweet-tart burst of flavor dried cranberries add to any dish, but for this salad, you could easily switch them out for diced fresh apple or pear.
- Goat cheese: Crumbled goat cheese (chevre) has a grassy flavor and creamy consistency that pairs particularly well with the farro, cranberries, and toasted pine nuts in this salad. From a nutritional standpoint, it also adds a little extra protein. You can use crumbled feta in its place if desired.
- Salad greens: Any type of salad greens will do for this recipe, but we like a combination of butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and hearts of romaine. If you’re looking for a little extra nutritional punch, you can use fresh spinach or baby kale instead.
- Radishes: Thin slices of radish add a bit of sweet pepperiness and a crisp crunch that contrasts nicely with the texture of the squash. Thin slivers of red bell pepper or shredded carrots could be substituted for texture, but they won’t add the same flavor as radishes do.
- Cherry tomatoes: Sweet, yet slightly acidic, cherry tomatoes are a delicious addition to any salad. For this dish, you can substitute just about any type of tomato, but grape tomatoes would be our next choice.
- Red onion: Sliced red onion adds a distinctive pop of flavor to this salad, but not everyone enjoys its intensity. If you’d like something more subtle, you could try pickled red onions, sliced sweet onion, or a sprinkling of chopped scallions.
- Toasted pine nuts: The rich, buttery flavor of toasted pine nuts complements both the farro and the goat cheese in this salad beautifully. Toasted walnuts or pecans are both acceptable substitutions.
- Toasted homemade croutons: Everyone loves a crisp, crunchy crouton, not just because they add texture to a salad, but because they balance the acidity of most dressings. Instructions for making easy homemade croutons are included in our recipe notes.
Fall Farro Salad
- 4 servings cooked farro
- 10 ounce package frozen cubed butternut squash, partially thawed (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Salad greens
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- Radishes, thinly sliced
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Sliced red onion
- 1 cup homemade toasted croutons, see notes
For the orange vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 clove garlic, pressed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and set it to preheat to 425°F.
- In a mixing bowl, toss the frozen butternut squash with the olive oil and brown sugar.
- Once the oven has preheated, transfer the squash to the hot baking sheet and spread in a single layer, leaving a little space between the cubes to allow for browning.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the squash is cooking, prepare the dressing, plump the cranberries and toast the pine nuts.
- To plump the dried cranberries, soak them for 10 minutes in very hot water.
- To toast the pine nuts, heat them in a small non-stick pan over medium heat until lightly toasted. Shake occasionally to ensure even browning and watch them carefully because pine nuts burn very easily.
- To make the dressing, whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and garlic together in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil and continue whisking until well blended.
- To assemble the salads, divide the farro between four serving bowls, add portions of roasted squash and salad greens.
- Top with cranberries, pine nuts, goat cheese, radishes, tomatoes, red onion, and croutons.
- Drizzle each salad with dressing and serve immediately.