Treat yourself to a big bowl of this delicious Farro Kale Salad tonight! This warm Farro salad is packed with healthy veggies and tangy feta cheese. Plus, it's super easy to make, and has tons of flavor ... the perfect salad for dinner or lunch!
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I don't know about you, but I looove a big salad for lunch (and dinner, too). Something delicious and fresh, but that will still fill me up.
Kale salad is a favorite over here, and I'm always looking for more ways to use farro, so I thought why not pair the two? The combination was a winner, and this warm Farro and Kale Salad had been on repeat ever since!
You are going to love this salad! It has minimal, easy to find ingredients and bright, fresh flavors, plus it's super versatile and can be customized like crazy. It's also loaded with yummy veggies, and it's one of those recipes that's hearty, yet healthy, which means you won't be hungry an hour later!
Because it lasts for a few days in the fridge, this Kale Farro Salad is great for meal prep and lazy lunches, too. And most importantly, it tastes amazing!
Ready to try this tasty salad for yourself? Then, keep on scrolling for all the details!
This delicious Farro Salad uses easy to find ingredients. Here's what you'll need:
- Farro - I recommend using pearled or semi-pearled farro for this recipe. Look for it in your grocery store's rice / grain aisle or purchase it online. If your package doesn't list the type, flip it over and look at the cooking directions. Pearled / semi-pearled farro should take around 15 to 25 minutes to cook (and won't require soaking). Any variety will work though, just keep in mind that whole grain will require soaking and may need to simmer longer (depending on how long it soaks).
- Kale - You'll need a large bunch of kale, and any variety (curly or flat leaf) can be used. The kale gets massaged with olive oil and salt, which tenderizes it, and makes it more pleasant to eat raw.
- Cauliflower - You'll roast the cauliflower for this recipe with olive oil, salt, and pepper (so simple, but so delicious). If you're not a cauliflower fan, other veggies can also be used ... check out the Variations section below.
- Cabbage - A little red cabbage adds crunch and a lovely pop of color.
- Walnuts - Toasted walnuts add a great texture and flavor to the finished salad. Other nuts may also be used, depending on what's in your pantry.
- Lemon - Fresh lemon brightens the salad's rich, hearty flavors.
- Feta - Tangy feta cheese adds tons of flavor to the salad. Other cheeses may also be used, like goat, blue, or sharp cheddar.
This salad is naturally vegetarian, and you can easily make it vegan / dairy free simply by skipping the feta. It's delicious both ways!
Types of Farro
There are three varieties of farro: grande (spelt), piccolo (einkorn), and medio (emmer). Medio is most common in the U.S. However, most of the packages I've seen don't even mention the variety ... so avoid get too caught up on that!
What you do want to look out for is the type of farro: pearled, semi-pearled, or whole grain. Pearled is the most processed, which means it also the fastest cooking. Whole grain on the other hand, is the complete berry, and it takes the longest. Semi-pearled falls in the middle.
You'll Also Need
To make this recipe, you'll need a large baking sheet to roast the cauliflower (these Circulon baking sheets are my fave), a medium pot to cook the farro and a fine mesh strainer to drain it, plus a large bowl to mix everything together.
How to Make Farro Kale Salad
This recipe isn't difficult to prepare, but it has a few different parts. You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Prep ingredients. To save time later, make sure to chop / slice all the ingredients that need prepping (cauliflower, nuts, kale, cabbage, and feta) first.
- Roast cauliflower. Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste, then roast it until browned and tender. Make sure to flip it about halfway through to ensure it cooks evenly.
- Prepare the farro. Once the cauliflower is in the oven, combine the farro with water and salt in a medium pot, then bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer the grain until it's tender and chewy (about 15 to 25 minutes for pearled or semi-pearled farro). When it's finished cooking, drain it in a fine mesh strainer. If your other ingredients are ready to go at this point, you can add the farro right to the salad. Other wise, transfer it back to the pot, then cover the pot so the farro stays warm.
- Toast the walnuts. While the cauliflower and farro cook, toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Nuts have a tendency to burn easily, so keep an eye on them as the pan warms up and shake it frequently.
- Massage the kale. Once the walnuts are done, combine the sliced kale, olive oil, and salt in your largest bowl. Then, stick your hands in there and massage the oil and salt into the kale for a couple minutes. When done, it should be tender and reduced in volume (see pics below for a "before" and "after"). Finally, mix in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt. Tip: if you've never worked with kale before, check out the video in my massaged kale salad recipe to see exactly how I do this!
- Mix everything together. Combine the warm farro with the kale and the sliced cabbage. Then gently fold in the cauliflower, feta, and nuts. Season to taste with extra lemon juice, salt, or pepper, if needed.
And then it's time to eat! You can serve this Farro Salad with feta and roasted vegetables warm or cold, which makes it super versatile.
I like to make a batch for dinner, then eat the leftovers for lunch. It will last about three days in the fridge, making it perfect for meal prep, too. However you serve it though, this is one salad you're sure to love!
You are going to love how versatile this Kale Farro Salad is. Because the ingredients are so basic, you can think of them more as a guide, rather than considering them set in stone ... although I do think it's perfect exactly as-is!
Here are some tips for customizing the recipe according to your tastes (or what's in your pantry):
- Veggies - This salad works with almost any vegetable, so feel free to sub other ingredients according to what's in season (winter, spring, summer, or fall). Check out my post on how to roast vegetables for cooking times and tips. You could also add raw veggies (like garden fresh tomatoes).
- Cabbage - I love the red cabbage in this recipe ... it adds so much color and crunch! But if you don't have any on hand, you can skip it.
- Grains - Can't find farro? Try using quinoa, brown rice, barley, or even freekeh in its place.
- Greens - Not a kale fan? Mix in your fave lettuce instead, like baby greens, spinach, or arugula. Just keep in mind that lettuce won't hold up as well as hearty kale, and it doesn't need massaging like the kale does. If you think you'll have leftovers, store the greens separately (then serve the salad over them, instead of mixed together).
- Cheese - Feel free to add your fave cheese if you're not feeling the feta. I've made it with Parmesan cheese before, and it was so good. Crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese, or even sharp white cheddar would also be tasty.
- Nuts - I made this salad with walnuts. You can swap in other nuts like pecans (or even seeds), or skip them altogether if you have an allergy though.
This hearty Farro and Kale Salad makes a great meal all on its own! However, it would be tasty paired with a bowl of soup (try my 15 Bean Soup or my Minestrone) or on the side of a sandwich (like this Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Grilled Cheese or these Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches), too.
Because it keeps so well, this Farro Kale Salad is also perfect for serving at picnics and potlucks.
If you're craving more salads featuring whole grains and other healthy ingredients, try one of these recipes next:
- Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Freekeh Salad
- Lentil Brown Rice Salad
- Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Freekeh
- Greek Quinoa Salad
- Superfood Salad with Citrus Dressing
- Watermelon Basil Quinoa Salad
Looking for more kale dishes? You can find all my Kale Recipes here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Farro is an ancient grain with roots dating back to Mesopotamia. It's a type of wheat, so it's not gluten free. These days, it's popular in Italian and Mediterranean cooking, and it's catching on here in the U.S., too!
Cooked farro has a tender, yet chewy texture and a mild, nutty flavor. It reminds me a bit of barley, although it's chewier. The mild flavor means that it works well in everything from soups to risottos to salads.
These best way to know when farro is done is by tasting it: the grains should be plumped up (similar to barley); and when you take a bite, it should be tender and pleasantly chewy. If it's not done, just keep simmering.
Depending on what variety you use, cooking times will vary:
Pearled: 15-20 minutes
Semi-Pearled: 25-30 minutes
Whole Grain: 20-60 minutes, depending on soaking time
Farro is a whole grain that's packed with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, protein, iron, and other minerals and good stuff (learn more about its benefits at the Mayo Clinic). Nutrient-wise, it's on par with healthy quinoa and freekeh, making a great alternative to less nutritious rice.
Farro Kale Salad
- 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups)
- 1 cup farro (pearled or semi-pearled)
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 large bunch kale, sliced (about 8 cups)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ small head red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place cauliflower on a large baking sheet and toss with 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes, then flip. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes, or until it's tender and browned on the edges.
- Once the cauliflower is in the oven, rinse the farro in a fine mesh strainer. Then combine it with 3 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low. Cover pot and and simmer until farro is tender, about 15 to 25 minutes. (See note below about cooking times.)
- Drain farro in a fine mesh strainer to remove any excess liquid.
- While the farro is cooking, place the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until toasted (lightly browned), shaking pan frequently and watching closely. Transfer to a small bowl / plate, then set aside until ready to use.
- Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Using your hands, massage kale for a couple minutes or until it's reduced in volume and is tender.
- Stir in the lemon juice, then season kale with additional salt, if needed.
- When the farro is finished cooking, combine it with the kale and cabbage. Then gently fold in the cauliflower, feta, and walnuts. Season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper, if desired.
- Serve salad warm or store in the refrigerator for later. Enjoy!