Smoked paprika, olives, pine nuts and golden raisins combine with garlic seared chickpeas and capers as well as fresh spinach and chewy farro to make an unforgettable Spanish-influenced hearty salad. This dish is vegan, but my best taste-tester husband actually thought (hoped?) there might be bacon in it due to the smoky flavors. Nope. Just a bunch of veg and nuts! Interesting how one can make things taste kinda bacon-y without actual bacon, isn’t it? Must investigate further.
This recipe is adapted from Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero, who has authored quite a few innovative vegan cookbooks. Salad Samurai is full of awesome, hearty, and healthy vegan salad recipes as well as all kinds of toppings, dressings, and extras you can use in the recipes or just make on their own.
This recipe calls for cooked farro, which is a chewy whole grain. If you’re not sure how to cook farro, which I wasn’t, here is an excellent post on how to make it. I used “whole” farro which cooks much faster if you remember to soak it beforehand. Most instructions for whole farro advise overnight soaking, but I started soaking in the morning when I planned to make the salad in the evening, and that seemed to be enough – it took about 45 minutes to cook, similar to brown rice. I should mention that even though you can make it in a rice cooker, my rice cooker didn’t seem to know the farro was done the way it can sense when rice is done, so it’s best to set a timer if you’re not sure rather than relying on the rice cooker to beep.
- FOR SALAD:
- 1 to 3 cups cooked farro (the original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I made 1 cup of uncooked farro which makes about 2½ to 3 cups cooked, and used all of it! Don't worry, there's plenty of dressing.)
- 6 cups baby spinach (one 5-oz package)
- ½ c. golden raisins
- ⅓ c. toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
- ¼ c. pitted, sliced Kalamata olives
- FOR DRESSING:
- 3 T. olive oil
- ¼ c. minced shallots
- 2 T. sherry vinegar
- 1 T. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- FOR GARLIC CHICKPEAS:
- 1 T. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 14-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (pat dry with paper towel to aid browning)
- 2 T. capers (these will burst during browning and add caper-y goodness to everything)
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional but adds more smokiness!)
- 1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ lemon's worth)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prepare your salad: In a large salad bowl, combine the farro, spinach, raisins, pine nuts, and olives.
- Prepare your dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Sear your garlic chickpeas: In a large skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds (just until fragrant - do not let it brown or it will burn by the time you're done). Turn heat up to high and add the well-drained chickpeas, capers, and smoked paprika (this might splatter so be careful). Fry the chickpeas for 3-5 minutes or until browned and seared on the surface. Remove from the heat and toss with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble your final dish: Transfer the hot chickpeas to the salad, add the dressing, and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
i love salads with plenty of different textures and salty/tart things, so this sounds perfect! might swap out the spinach for another green, though, since i’m not the biggest fan of raw spinach.