Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

Bean & Farro Salad with Cilantro Apple Dressing.

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Bean & Farro Salad with Cilantro Apple Dressing., Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

I love a good chilled bean salad. Especially one that’s got a lot going on…like this one!

Canalini and black beans, avocado, radishes, apples, cilantro and faro, tossed in a creamy cilantro and apple dressing that’s pretty ridiculous, if I do say so myself. Balanced, hearty and super fresh so it’s perfect for summertime!

Tastiness aside though, this salad is a fantastic exercise in cooking by texture. I can explain.

So imagine you’re eating this salad without your taste buds on. Wait, what? Yeah, you’re eating and eating it because it’s amazing, but you can’t taste a damn thing, which is actually fine because your mouth is happily captivated by all the textures going on. The tenderness of the beans – first the buttery cannelinies and then the black beans, slightly more firm so they can be noticed. The crispness of the apple and its little bursts of juice awaken your mouth and keep things moving. The supple avocado melts to coat and hold everything together. The farro, which kind of hides in the shadows of it all, is the secret chewy textural component that you wouldn’t be able to quite put you finger on, if you hadn’t put it in there yourself. And the paper-thin radish slices punctuate every bite with their snappy crunch.

bean and farro salad honet fare

So, who cares how awesome this salad tastes. It’s worth eating for the oral stimulation alone. Texture has as much to do with the success of a dish as does flavor. The composition and character of each ingredient, and even how it’s sliced changes things even further. I went paper thin with the radishes; small triangles with the apples and ¼ inch cubes with the avocado. Slight variations in size, but all on the small side worked great here. Just think how giant chunks of radishes would have changed everything and made the dish a lot less manageable.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention the dressing. I just blended up half an apple, with some cilantro, rice vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and a tiny nib of a shallot. And in the end, I decided to blend in a couple scoops of Greek yogurt for extra creaminess (and because I find it difficult to go without it these days). Totally optional.

bean and farro salad honest fare

Mixing grain(s) to a bean salad (or any salad for that matter) does great things for texture and overall satiability too. But it has to be the right grain, or else we’re talking mush. I used farro here because it’s somewhat dense (similar to barley) and doesn’t fall apart or get lost in the mix. If you don’t typically cook with farro, give it a shot! You won’t be disappointed. It cooks more or less like rice, but requires a greater water ratio (1/3).

This is a good dish to make a bunch of and eat for a few days. And you can add in other ingredients on day two or three so you don’t get bored – for example, I like to mix in some raw kale with an extra scoop of greek yogurt! It’s easy to pack for lunch or to the beach. A perfect dish for the summer glow…

bean and farro salad honest fare

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Cook + Prep time: 25 mins. Serves 4. Pearled farro has the outer husk already removed to reduce cook time. Substitute farro with barley if needed. Use canned beans if you’re pressed for time!

You need:

Salad components:

  • About 2 cups cooked farro (1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • 5-6 radishes sliced paper-thin
  • 1 avocado sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 apple sliced into small triangles or matchsticks
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Several few sprigs of fresh cilantro

For the apple cilantro dressing:

  • 3 Tbs rice vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 an apple
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • Handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 of a shallot
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Greek yogurt (optional)


For the apple cilantro dressing:

  1. Wash and chop half an apple into cubes (reserve other half for salad.) Add apple, lemon juice, olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, cilantro, rice vinegar and shallot to food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth, adding a tiny drizzle of water and/or more olive oil to thin.
  2. For an even creamier and less acidic flavor, add in Greek yogurt and blend again until silky smooth. Place in fridge to chill.

For everything else:

  1. Rinse farro and place in pot with at least 3 cups of salted water. Bring to low boil and cook until grains are al dente or chewy (about 15-20 minutes). Drain out excess water and rinse in cold water. Place in fridge to chill.
  2. Slice half an apple into small triangles or matchsticks, place in a bowl and toss in lemon juice. Cut avocado into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice radishes paper thin. Wash and pluck several leaves of cilantro from stems.
  3. Place grains, beans and the above in a bowl and toss with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over and toss again. Add any additional salt and pepper.



  1. Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    This definitely sounds like my kind of salad… at first I thought it was a chipotle apple dressing but cilantro is more up my alley. Yum!

  2. Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    I am SUCH a big fan of cooking by texture – in fact, though I don’t have many, my list of least favorite foods are all a direct result of their weird texture, rather than bad flavor. This salad would be a big hit on my dinner table! Apple-cilantro dressing? Uh, yes please.

  3. Posted June 18, 2012 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    I only came to find your recipe after cooking beans and farro today, planning to make a salad with it tomorrow. I think I’ll keep this in mind for my lunch, even though I don’t have everything at home at the moment.

  4. Posted June 19, 2012 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Sounds delicious for this recipe! It’s make me hungry :) i can’t wait to eat this!

  5. Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    I love the mix of textures at least as much as the actual flavor of food! Haven’t cooked with farro before, looking forward to trying this, sounds delicious. The dressing sounds amazing too, apple and cilantro, what a great combination! I might add my favorite sheep’s milk yogurt to it and see if it works. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  6. Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

    Forever the radish queen <3

    Come over for dinner soon. No dogs allowed on the new couch, you'll like it.

  7. Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    I have never cooked with Farro and I have some in the pantry. Time to follow your lead – I am on a salad kick this week and have posted on my blog two in as many weeks!

  8. tessa
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    this was really yummy! i made it last night. didn’t have farro, so i used barley.

  9. Posted June 22, 2012 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    Absolutely Beautiful!! This salad looks like everything I’ve been wanting and craving to try lately. Love it

  10. Posted June 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    This sounds fabulous. A great summer dish for a hot afternoon.

  11. Posted July 7, 2012 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

    Made this tonight. FAB!

  12. Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    Yummy and delicious sound for this salad recipe! Feeling quite hungry :)

  13. Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    This looks amazing! So fresh and unique – love the apple addition. Can’t wait to try it!

  14. Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been making risottos with faro and prefer it to rice.. recipe looks lovely

  15. Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    This was easy to make, super delicious, and filling. It will definitely be high on my meal-rotation this summer!

  16. Posted July 27, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    I loved this post, and your chipotle gauc so I have included them both in my July 2012 roundup of meatless meals. Thanks for the fresh approach and the inspiration!

  17. Sonia
    Posted August 26, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    I just made this salad and it is fabulous!!! I never knew that cilantro and apple went so well together. This recipe is going in the bank :)

  18. Isobel
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    I made this last night and it was amazing! One of the best salads I’ve ever eaten!

  19. Posted December 8, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    Oh my goodness. I just found this on pinterest and can’t wait to make it! And what an absolutely wonderful description!

  20. carolina
    Posted January 5, 2013 at 10:20 PM | Permalink

    Looks delicious, will make it tomorrow

  21. Posted April 13, 2013 at 11:23 PM | Permalink

    This is my kind of salad! love the dressing.

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