Farro + Fennel Salad



1 8oz bag farro

1 head of fresh fennel 

1 heirloom tomato 

1 sweet white onion

1 can of black pitted olives 

1 cup of pre-made vegetarian dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) chopped - with oils from packaging

2 cups of spinach

1/2 cup fresh basil

10 pieces of fresh chives

garlic extra virgin olive oil ( or  regular evoo)

1-2 tsp white wine vinegar 

1 -2 tsp tomato paste

raw sugar

salt + pepper 



Start by following the directions on the bag of how to cook the farro. Next you will want to chop all of your veg and dolmas. I usually start by thinly slicing the onion and olives, along with the dolmas - then combining in a large bowl, with a tablespoon of garlic olive oil. Put to the side - letting it marinate while we prepare the fennel. 

Next, slice the fennel leaving a few larger pieces of the heart - as seen in the photo above. Using a medium sized sauce pan, heat with about 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Once the pan has heated, sprinkle a pinch of sugar and add fennel.  You want to caramelize it, so sauté it continually adding sugar, about a tablespoon in all - and a pinch of salt to taste.  After about 4-5 minutes, add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste and 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar ( add more for larger heads of fennel).  Mix, making sure it completely covers the fennel. Bring to a low heat and cover for 2-3 minutes. You want your fennel to be beautifully caramelized, but still have a crunch, so be weary not to over cook. 

Once both the farro and fennel have cooked, rise the farro with cool water and combine both into the large mixing bowl. Make sure to get all of the juices from the fennel pan - to add flavor to the salad. Keep any larger pieces of fennel to the side to plate. Add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. You may also need more garlic olive oil if the mixture is too dry.    

In a separate bowl take fresh spinach and basil and toss in a light garlic olive oil and slice Heirloom tomato. 

To plate start with the spinach and basil mix, add tomato slice and top with a scoop of farro salad. Next add a larger piece of caramelized fennel and and top with chopped chives and pepper.  You can also take any left over oils from the fennel pan to drizzle over.  You can also simply make more tomato oil to drizzle over the salad by combining more garlic olive oil, tomato paste, dash of white wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix in the warm pan and with a soft spatula.   

serve at room temperate. serves 4.

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