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Farro and spinach salad with creamy fig dressing

mains & sides recipes salad & dressings Dec 03, 2019

This salad is our new family favourite. We all love it! So I knew I had to share it with you.  I am trying to incorporate more plant-based meals for my family.  I love soups this time of year and can eat them just about every day, but my family can't say the same.  So I really try to make different meals to satisfy their taste buds and not have them get bored with veggies.  If you know me, you know how important I believe vegetables are to our health. One of my missions in life is to have people in my sphere of influence incorporate more plants in their diet. This is because plants provide us with life. Nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. They help us thrive and live with energy! They reduce inflammation and all metabolic disorders like diabetes, elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad guys), hypertension.  They really are amazing! So I try my best to come up with creative meals that suit our health needs and taste buds.

So this recipe calls for farro or spelt berries.  Spelt is a glutenous grain, so if you are on a gluten-free diet you can simply replace the spelt for quinoa, millet whole oat berries or buckwheat. All of these would taste wonderful!

The details of the recipe are below but I just wanted to highlight one thing.  Prior to cooking the spelt berries, I like to soak them overnight in water and apple cider vinegar. This is simple to improve the digestability f the grain and to help remove some of the anti-nutrients.

Soaking doesn't only impact taste but also helps the food to become more digestible and nourishing. Grains contain phytic acid which is the major storage form of phosphorus in grains, legumes, oilseeds and nuts. Phytic acid is known as a food inhibitor which chelates minerals and prevents it from being bioavailable because humans lack the enzyme phytase in their digestive tract to properly digest phytic acid. Soaking, along with fermentation has been traditionally used to reduce the phytic acid content in food and improve the nutritional value. Many studies have been conducted to assess the absorption rate of nutrients. It's been reported that phytic acid inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Removal of phytic acid, therefore, increases the bioavailability of many minerals and therefore increases the nutritional value of the meal. I find it so interesting that traditional cooking methods often make scientific sense.


Lara's tip: Soak farro berries 3-12 hours prior to cooking to help it become more digestible and improve the bioavailability of nutrients.


To soak the farro, place in a ceramic or glass dish, cover with warm water and add to it 1-2 tsp of some type of acid. I like to use apple cider vinegar or lemon. I always have apple cider vinegar on hand so that's what I generally use. I  usually soak it overnight but you can leave it for 24 hours as well. If you'd like to learn more about phytic and soaking grains check out what Kelly has to say at the nourishing home.

Farro and spinach salad with creamy fig dressing

 
Author: Lara
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Creative meals that suit our health needs and taste buds.
Ingredients
  • Farro berries
  • 1 1/4 cups of farro berries (whole spelt berries)
  • 1/4 cup of dried wild mushrooms (your choice as I use a mixture) (optional for added umami flavour)
  • 4 cups of boiling water (more for soaking)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 apples, cored and peeled and diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (my preference for cooking is avocado oil)
  • Salad Dressing
  • 5 dried figs
  • 3/4 cup of boiling hot water
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Toasted pecans
  • 1 cup of raw pecans
  • Salad
  • 120 grams of spinach
Instructions
Farro berries
  1. I like to soak farro berries overnight or for a few hours before cooking to increase the digestibility. You can forgo this all together. However, I like to soak for at least a few hours to improve nutritional absorption and ease of digestion.
  2. To soak, place berries in a glass bowl and cover with water and add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Set aside for the desired time.
  3. When ready to cook, strain the berries and add to a cooking pot. Top with 4 cups of boiling water, 2 tsp of sea salt, and dried wild mushrooms. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the berries are cooked through
  4. Once cooked, strain and set aside.
  5. Remove the mushrooms and finely dice and set aside in a small serving bowl.
  6. While the farro is cooking, place 1 tbsp of oil into a large pan and heat over medium/high heat. Add diced onions and cook until translucent for a few minutes, stirring periodically.
  7. Peel, core, and cut apple into bite-size pieces. Add to the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. You want the apple to be firm.
  8. Now add the farro berries to this pan and toss until well incorporated.
Toasted pecans
  1. Place one cup of pecans onto a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 5 minutes. Watch them closely, so they don't burn
Fig Dressing
  1. Place 5 figs into a bowl and top with boiling water and allow to soak for 5 min or so
  2. Place figs, soaking water and all remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy
  3. If it's not tart enough for your liking, add more vinegar. The tartness will depend on the vinegar
Assembling salad
  1. Place salad into a large bowl, top with warm berries, and toss until well incorporated. I like to add the berries warm to allow the spinach to wilt slightly.
  2. Next, add the dressing and mix well. Serve into four serving plates and top with toasted pecans and a portion of the diced wild mushrooms. This salad can also be served with some toasted tofu for additional protein if you're serving this as a main dish.
Farro and spinach salad with creamy fig dressing
Print

Farro and spinach salad with creamy fig dressing

Yield: 4
Author: Lara
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 40 Min
Creative meals that suit our health needs and taste buds.

Ingredients

  • Farro berries
  • 1 1/4 cups of farro berries (whole spelt berries)
  • 1/4 cup of dried wild mushrooms (your choice as I use a mixture) (optional for added umami flavour)
  • 4 cups of boiling water (more for soaking)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 apples, cored and peeled and diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (my preference for cooking is avocado oil)
  • Salad Dressing
  • 5 dried figs
  • 3/4 cup of boiling hot water
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Toasted pecans
  • 1 cup of raw pecans
  • Salad
  • 120 grams of spinach

Instructions

  1. Farro berries
  2. I like to soak farro berries overnight or for a few hours before cooking to increase the digestibility. You can forgo this all together. However, I like to soak for at least a few hours to improve nutritional absorption and ease of digestion.
  3. To soak, place berries in a glass bowl and cover with water and add 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Set aside for the desired time.
  4. When ready to cook, strain the berries and add to a cooking pot. Top with 4 cups of boiling water, 2 tsp of sea salt, and dried wild mushrooms. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the berries are cooked through
  5. Once cooked, strain and set aside.
  6. Remove the mushrooms and finely dice and set aside in a small serving bowl.
  7. While the farro is cooking, place 1 tbsp of oil into a large pan and heat over medium/high heat. Add diced onions and cook until translucent for a few minutes, stirring periodically.
  8. Peel, core, and cut apple into bite-size pieces. Add to the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. You want the apple to be firm.
  9. Now add the farro berries to this pan and toss until well incorporated.
  10. Toasted pecans
  11. Place one cup of pecans onto a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 5 minutes. Watch them closely, so they don't burn
  12. Fig Dressing
  13. Place 5 figs into a bowl and top with boiling water and allow to soak for 5 min or so
  14. Place figs, soaking water and all remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy
  15. If it's not tart enough for your liking, add more vinegar. The tartness will depend on the vinegar
  16. Assembling salad
  17. Place salad into a large bowl, top with warm berries, and toss until well incorporated. I like to add the berries warm to allow the spinach to wilt slightly.
  18. Next, add the dressing and mix well. Serve into four serving plates and top with toasted pecans and a portion of the diced wild mushrooms. This salad can also be served with some toasted tofu for additional protein if you're serving this as a main dish.
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