A wholesome, warm grain salad made with nutty, chewy farro, roasted butternut squash, kale, cranberries, pecans and goat cheese tossed in a tangy apple cider vinaigrette. This hearty and delicious farro salad loaded with texture and sweet and savory notes for a perfect side dish or vegetarian main course.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you in partnership with my friends at Bob’s Red Mill. I used their Organic Farro in this recipe and I absolutely love their products. Thank you for supporting the brands that help bring new content to Big Delicious Life!
A big healthy salad isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about comforting cold weather food, but this hearty farro salad will absolutely change your mind. It’s loaded with seasonal flavors and full of texture for a super satisfying vegetarian meal.
Farro salad the perfect thing for your plant-based guests for Thanksgiving or Christmas. This seasonal salad is colorful, festive and makes a great side dish for meat eaters but also a super satisfying and filling main dish for the vegetarians.
I also love this salad because the leftovers keep well for a few days, ideal for meal prep during the busy holiday season.
I don’t know about you, but during the holidays, between all the charcuterie boards, cookies, cakes and cocktails, my body is screaming for some lighter fare. This farro salad recipe has some of my favorite seasonal veggies and really hits the spot when I need something easy, delicious and nourishing to keep me going!
What is farro?
If you have never tried farro before, your life is about to change! Farro is and ancient grain that looks similar to barley. Pearled farro is what is most commonly found in the US. This means that the bran has been removed and the cooking time is significantly reduced compared to whole farro.
It’s healthy, satisfying and a great base for turning salads into complete meals as it’s full of protein and fiber and has a delicious nutty flavor and chewy texture. I love to make a big batch and then use it in different recipes for healthy meal prep throughout the week.
Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite and you can usually find it in your regular grocery store or online.
Why you will love this recipe
- It’s the perfect plant-based dish for vegetarian guests during the holidays.
- It’s easy to make and leftovers store well in the refrigerator for a few days.
- This super tasty salad is healthy and full of flavor and texture. No more boring cold salads!
- It’s a great recipe for serving warm or at room temperature.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro
- Butternut Squash – cubed roasted sweet potatoes would be a good substitute.
- Dried Cranberries – dried tart cherries or fresh pomegranate seeds are also great.
- Pecans – walnuts and hazelnuts also work well. To accommodate any nut allergies, toasted pepitas are a great substitute.
- Goat Cheese – you could also use feta cheese or leave it out for a vegan version.
- Fresh Parsley
- Olive Oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar – if you don’t have apple cider vinegar, use red or white wine vinegar or even fresh lemon juice.
- Shallot – if you don’t have any shallots, you could definitely add some finely diced red onion to the salad.
- Dijon Mustard
- Honey – or maple syrup.
- Cinnamon – a pinch of cinnamon in the dressing adds a bit of warmth to bring out the seasonal flavors.
- Salt & Pepper
How to make farro salad
Cube and roast the butternut squash until tender.
Cook the farro to al dente according to package directions.
While the squash and farro are cooking, make the vinaigrette and prep the kale. To prep the kale, remove the leaves from the tough stems and chop into bite size pieces. Rinse thoroughly to remove and dirt and grit and use a salad spinner or clean dishtowel to dry completely. You want the kale to be fully dry. I like to leave it out on the counter on a clean towel while the farro and squash are cooking so it has ample time to air dry.
Add the dry kale to a large bowl and pour in the vinaigrette. With clean hands, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are tender, shiny and reduce in volume by about half.
Add in the cooked farro, roasted squash, chopped fresh parsley, pecans, cranberries and goat cheese and use a wooden spoon to toss it all together. Serve warm or room temperature.
No. Farro is a wheat product that contains gluten. If you need gluten-free option, cooked brown rice would be your best bet.
Yes. Personally, I think it tastes best when it’s served slightly warm. If you’re making this as part of your holiday spread, you can make the vinaigrette, roast the squash, cook the farro and prep the kale in advance. The next day, just gently warm the farro and squash before assembling and serving.
Yes. Leftover farro salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 2 days.
More cold weather hearty vegetarian dishes you will love
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
- Vegetable Orzo Soup
- Mushroom Barley Soup
- Vegan Thai Coconut Curry
- Hearty Lentil Soup
- Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
- Creamy Mushroom Pappardelle
Winter Farro Salad
- 2 cups cooked Bob's Red Mill organic farro
- 1 small butternut squash peeled and cubed, about 3 cups
- 1 bunch Lacinato kale
- 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese about ⅓ cup
- ½ cup roughly chopped pecans
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 small shallot finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- Peel and cut the butternut squash into half inch cubes. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until fork tender and golden brown around the edges.
- Cook the farro in a pot of salted water according to package directions.
- While the farro and squash are cooking, prep the kale. Remove the leaves from the tough stems and chop the leaves into bite size pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly using a salad spinner or a clean dish towel.
- In a medium bowl or small mason jar, combine finely minced shallot, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, cinnamon, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake or whisk vigorously until emulsified. Taste and season with more salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, pour dressing over kale and with clean hands, massage for 2-3 minutes until leaves are tender and volume is reduced by about half.
- Add in cooked butternut squash, cooked farro, fresh chopped parsley, pecans, cranberries and goat cheese. Toss to combine and serve warm or room temperature.
This salad was super easy to make and delicious! I made it for a ladies luncheon for six and served with grilled chicken. Everyone wanted the recipe. Will definitely make this again.
I’m so happy everyone loved it. Thank you for letting me know!
My whole family loves this salad. It’s very cozy and filling without adding any meat but still fresh. I am making it again for lunches next week!
I brought this salad to Thanksgiving and it was a big hit! I had never tried farro before but we all loved it!
I have never cooked with farro before, but I loved the nutty chewiness contrasting with the salty feta and sweet cranberries. You’ve done it yet again!
I had to jump in to comment that this recipe is INCREDIBLE. I had to omit the nuts because of an allergy (😱), but this amazing recipe didn’t suffer one bit because of that! Thank you for sharing!
Absolutely loved this salad! Now that it’s getting colder I love adding the butternut squash and kale! I subbed feta like you suggested, so good.
I think farro is one of the most underrated grains, so I was excited to find your salad recipe. The combo of goat cheese, cranberries, and crunchy pecans was spot on!
This salad was amazing! I’m always looking for new salad recipes, especially ones with kale instead of lettuce! The pinch of cinnamon in the vinegrette was the perfect touch to make this feel and taste like fall/winter salad! My six year old saw what I was eating, grabbed a fork and dug into my fowl! We both loved it!