Don’t you just love summer? The days are long, the worries are few (or at least I like to pretend that’s true), and short road trips are abundant.
This past weekend began our three-weekend stretch of road trips. As I type this, we’re currently somewhere in the middle of Iowa as we make our one-day trek across the entire state back to Madison.
Although this weekend will have consisted of a total of 16 hours on the road by the end it, it’s been so much fun! The whole reason for the trip was to see this pretty lady and her man get married in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Kate was a fellow intern, now dietitian, who loves food as much as me—her food selection and cake (oh my gosh, the cake!!) was proof of that. The food was tasty, the party was lively, and the whole wedding itself was stunning. I’m so glad we could help Kate and John celebrate their special day.
Although the trip was essentially all about the wedding, the trip had so many other fun, unexpected perks along the way. Philip and I got to catch up with my parents in Ames, Iowa, on Friday night and Sunday for the perfect halfway pit-stop to and from Nebraska. It’s always fun to be back at my old stomping grounds, even for a short time.
We made the most of it, though. I wanted to fit in a long run this weekend for my marathon training, so I had mapped out a 14-mile run earlier last week that was planned in such a way that I literally was able to tour all the “hot spots” in Ames. I was actually excited to go on my run and was even more thrilled when we found a bike (although less than stellar and a little squeaky) for Philip so he could ride along beside me (which is becoming a new norm as my runs get longer and longer).
It was so much fun running past places that triggered memories of stories I could share with Philip and pointing out different “landmarks” that he may or may not have been interested in :) (I have a feeling finding out about newly built traffic lights or buildings since I moved 2 years ago weren’t the most exciting for him).
Another fun perk was the chance to squeeze in a visit to my all-time favorite restaurant, The Café, to pick up a mocha as we headed out of Ames—a special treat I splurge $5 on only occasionally. I thought this weekend was a perfect time to indulge.
We capped off our fun weekend with a lovely, relaxed outdoor breakfast in downtown Lincoln with some oatmeal, juice, and the paper. Like I said, isn’t summer great?
Well, you know another great thing about summer? All the fresh produce! Cherries, to be exact. And this salad—Cherry and Almond Farro Salad—is the perfect way to showcase the sweet cherries that are so juicy and flavorful this time of year.
Now hear me out…I know you may think it’s a “healthy” recipe and you may have gotten leery as soon as you saw the word “farro,” but have must give it a try! This salad has so many flavors to it, so many great textures, and has so much depth to it all at the same time. My Dirt Pudding from last week may have been a picnic-pleaser, but I guarantee this salad is, too. The colors are gorgeous with the deep red cherries, bright specks of green mint scattered throughout, and the vibrant white feta cheese mixed throughout.
I’ve showcased farro before with my Roasted Beet and Farro Salad, but here it is again, because it’s seriously that good! Philip and I both agree that it gives the salad a great texture—slightly chewy, but firm at the same time…maybe I didn’t sell that very well, but trust me on this one, you should give it a try. It’s also a whole grain, so not only does it taste really cool on the tongue, it gives you a lot of fiber and some protein that other grains usually don’t provide as much of.
I love the sweetness of the cherries, but the white balsamic vinegar and red onion tames down the sweetness and gives it a little bit of a tang to it, too. You could probably use regular balsamic vinegar in a pinch, but the white balsamic has lighter and fruiter tones to it and is better suited for summery dishes.
The “surprise factor” of this salad that I absolutely love is the mint. To be honest, I was a little hesitant of adding it in and thought basil might be a better herb to compliment the salad, but the mint gives the whole salad an extra punch to it. Getting the occasional bite of mint really perks up the entire salad. If you don’t feel like spending $3 for a package of fresh mint, you can leave it out. The salad will still taste good, but just not as great as it could. Plus, I feel like everybody and their grandma is growing different herbs on their windowsill right now; one of them might have a couple sprigs of mint to lend ya…especially if you share some of this salad with them. :)
This salad is the perfect compliment to a simply grilled chicken breast or fish—a no-oven-used kind of meal is my favorite! It’s the perfect way to enjoy a light, summery, and refreshing meal. If it were the only way to hold onto summer a little bit longer, I wouldn’t mind.
Cherry-Almond Farro Salad
Adapted from: Eating Well
- 1 cup farro
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- Salt, to taste
- 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds
- 3 Tbsp finely diced red onion
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
- Combine farro and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the farro is tender, 20 to 30 minutes*. Drain any remaining liquid and fluff with a fork. Let farro cool for 10–15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, oil, pepper and salt (if desired) in a large bowl. Add cherries, feta, almonds, onion, mint and the farro. Gently stir to combine. This salad can be served immediately or chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use**.
*If you’re using “pearled” farro, the cooking time might be slightly quicker. Follow package instructions for cooking time.
**If making this salad ahead of time, wait to add the feta until ready to serve. The cherries will turn the feta a pinkish color as it sits.