What We're Cooking This Week: Chickpea and Farro Salad

Don’t be tempted to use canned beans.

Chickpea and farro salad, photo by Jim Dixon.

While they’re delicious any time of the year, bean and grain salads really shine when warm weather delivers a cornucopia of good produce. And though both the beans and grain take awhile to cook, you can do that a day or more in advance to speed things up. I think everyone needs a stash of cooked beans in the refrigerator at all times anyway, and don’t be tempted to use canned beans—they don’t taste nearly as good as dried beans cooked slowly with salt and olive oil.

Farro is an Italian name for the three different ancient wheats that can’t be easily hulled. Emmer is the most common, but both spelt and einkorn berries are also known as farro. Any of the three work in recipes calling for farro, but make sure to look for whole-grain farro. Packages labeled pearled, perlato, or semi perlato have had most of the outer hull ground off so they cook faster, but I find them a little too soft. Cook whole-grain farro gently in salted water to cover for about 40 minutes or until it’s tender but still has a little snap.

You can also switch the vegetables as the growing season progresses, but always include lots of fresh herbs. The late Katherine Deumling called her herb garden a green pantry, and if you’ve got the room a few pots or a patch of dirt can be your source for extra flavor.


2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 cups cooked farro

1 pound sugar snap peas

4 thin-skinned Persian-style cucumbers

2 shallots

¼ cup capers, preferably salt-packed

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 bunch cilantro

2 cups arugula

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons good wine vinegar

Kosher-style sea salt to taste

Drop the snap peas into salted boiling water and cook for about a minute, then drain and cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Smash the cucumbers (the technique is in this recipe) or cut them into small, bite-sized pieces. Slice the shallots thinly, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and soak the salt-packed capers in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain. Chop the cilantro, including the stems.

Combine the chickpeas, farro, vegetables, cilantro, and arugula in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Toss well and taste, adding more oil, vinegar, and salt to your liking. Serve at room temperature.

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