A real good tomato

I didn’t used to like tomatoes, you know. Not one bit. When I was about 12 my father made me try one, raised his voice and made me try the vegetable I feared most. I was so picky as a child that I think he was just choosing his battles; he knew a good tomato was a sad thing for a person to miss in life.

I’ve undergone several tomato epiphanies since then, the most important of which, of course, was learning what real, fresh, garden-grown tomatoes taste like. But still, each year when I see the season’s first greenhouse tomatoes pop out at farmers’ markets, I hold back, shy of the mealy, slipperysandy texture of the worst wintry specimens.

I bought tomatoes at the University District market today, and as I sliced them up for this salad, I almost didn’t try a little chunk. Almost didn’t, because a month ago, that would have been a mistake. But I did, and even though I knew Billy’s tomatoes are always good, I was still surprised by that tart, almost citrusy flavor of real tomato, that luxurious satiny texture.

This is the kind of salad that’s great to have in the fridge, when all you want is a big spoonful of something satisfying.

Farro Vegetable Salad

Recipe for Farro Vegetable Salad
Recipe 160 of 365

Farro is a grain unto itself (and quite an ancient one); whole, it can be cooked like rice and folded into salads. It has an earthy, nutty flavor (not unlike wheat berries) and is right at home anywhere you’d use barley or small pastas like orzo. Note that the farro itself takes about an hour to cook, so plan accordingly.

This is one of those salads that can take almost anything your fridge holds – think of adding cheeses, garbanzo beans, finely chopped red onion, corn, or bell peppers.

TIME: 20 minutes, plus time to cook farro
MAKES: 6 servings

1 1/2 cups farro
1/4 pound green beans, blanched and chopped into 1/2” pieces
1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small zucchini (raw or leftover cooked), finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the farro according to package instructions. (My package says to combine 1 1/2 cups farro with 4 cups water, boil on high for 10 minutes, then simmer on low for 50 to 55 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the grains are tender.)

Meanwhile, combine the beans, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the hot farro, mix to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

4 Comments

Filed under recipe

4 responses to “A real good tomato

  1. I’ve only tentatively started buying tomatoes again since Seattle’s tend to be at their best first starting in late July and into mid-October or so. Are the farmers’ market tomatoes ones all from hothouses right now?

    I love farro, though I tend to make it as a heavier dish than your variation. I really ought to play with some more acidic, refreshing approaches.

  2. Yes, the tomatoes I got were from greenhouses – but they beat this season’s supermarket tomatoes by a mile!

    I was just thinking of making a heavier farro dish, say, farro & cheese . . .yum.

  3. Yeah, the only supermarkets I’m willing to entrust with my tomatoes at all are Central Market, Ballard Market or Metropolitan Market, and even then generally only in late summer.

    But I do buy from Sosio’s in the market a lot… even sometimes a bit off season.

    Farro loves cream… Here’s one of my usual variations:
    http://blog.jagaimo.com/archive/2007/05/19/farro-and-cucumber-roasted-pepper-salad.aspx

  4. Hmm…Farro loves cream. Jess loves cream. This could be a nice, long relationship. Thanks, Jason!

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