Farro & Chickpea Salad with Blood Orange, Fennel and Mint

How gorgeous are blood oranges? Their deep red colour and berry-like flavour are a welcomed addition to any plate in the middle of a grey and cold winter. This salad is so fresh and vibrant, it will have you forgetting it’s only February! The crisp and clean flavour of the fennel certainly contributes to this salad’s refreshing quality.

Fennel is one of those wonky, hard to cut vegetables (in my opinion!). Some tips: remove the stalks (feel free to save the fronds for garnish), and the root end. Remove any outer leaves that aren’t so fresh. For this recipe, slice the fennel bulb in half, then in half again (i.e. quarters), through the root. Then, slice thinly widthwise for even, thin pieces- great for salads!

If you’ve never had farro before, I suggest you try it! It has a pleasant chewy consistency (think al dente pasta) and nutty flavour and is an excellent source of fibre. It has a low glycemic index, meaning it contributes to more stable blood sugars and sustained energy (goodbye, mid-afternoon slump!). If you’re still on the fence, try purchasing a small amount at a bulk store before committing to a larger package.

Also, if you don’t have or can’t find blood oranges, regular oranges or even grapefruit would work perfectly in this recipe.

Prep this recipe on a Sunday for lunches for the week, or bring to a potluck event or BBQ (*yes, I’m currently dreaming of warmer days*). I hope you enjoy it!!!

Farro Salad with Blood Orange and Fennel

1 cup farro, uncooked
1-19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced in half, then sliced thinly widthwise (if that makes no sense, just go for it! Thin slices!), about 2 cups worth
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint, thinly sliced (or chiffonade)
3 small blood oranges, segmented (or 1 cup)
Optional: a crumble of feta on top 

For the dressing:
2 tbsp. blood orange juice
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp Dijon
Salt and pepper, to taste

1) Cook farro according to package directions. Once cooked, place in fridge until cold (I cooked mine the night before). Add cooled farro to a large bowl along with the chickpeas, fennel, arugula and mint.

2) Cut the orange into segments over a bowl to catch the juice, as this will be used in the dressing. Place what remains of each orange after segmenting it into the bowl as well. Give them all a good squeeze and save the juice. Discard the rest. Add the orange segments to the bowl with the farro and chickpeas, etc.

3) Prepare the dressing. In a mason jar, add all dressing ingredients and shake it up to combine.

4) Pour dressing over salad and toss gently until well coated.

*Note*: If you’re planning to save some salad as leftovers, keep the arugula and mint separate. The farro, chickpeas, fennel, oranges and dressing could keep well as is, but the greens are vulnerable to wilting.