Since late January, I’ve been spending time in the pottery studio on the weekends. It’s my newest artistic endeavor, and I’ve gotten pretty caught up in it. It feels so good to make something real with my hands, to practice an art the way it’s been practiced for thousands of years. Especially good after spending the week tethered to my computer pushing pixels around, typing furiously on a keyboard, sending 1s and 0s into the ether. It’s a pleasure to create something you can hold in your hands, to transform a ball of wet dirt into something beautiful. I feel the same satisfaction when I cook. That raw, human pleasure that only comes from making something useful, nourishing or beautiful with your very own hands.
I’ve lost hours in the studio. I’ll sit down at the wheel, blink and somehow it’s 3 pm. I think the experts call it flow. And then I’m absolutely starving. If I’m lucky enough to have had the foresight, there’s this salad at home in the fridge waiting to be devoured. I’m calling this a salad, but I use that term liberally. It’s got more grains and goodies than it does greens, but salad seems to be an acceptable catchall term for this type of dish. I’m going for it.
I like this dish because it really excels at using up bits in your fridge. I hate to see those bits go to waste. Got a bit of cheese leftover from earlier grilled cheese sandwiches? Perfect. Some rotisserie chicken? Throw it in. Greens inching past their prime? Why not! Add in grains and something acidic and you’ve got a perfect, rather substantial salad.
This is a flexible recipe. You can swap things out for whatever you have on had and want to use up, but it’s good to keep this formula in mind: a grain, a protein, a green, something creamy, something acidic, and don’t forget the salt! Why fall victim to wasted food guilt when you can make this.
Farro Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Arugula and Apple
2 cups farro, cooked according to the package directions
1 apple, sliced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
1 cup leftover rotisserie chicken, cubed
2 – 3 cups arugula
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
pickled shallot for garnish (1 thinly sliced shallot, mixed with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt)
Cook the farro according to the package directions. I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Farro because it cooks in 10 minutes instead of 40. Food science magic right there. You could also use another grain like barley or quinoa or rice if you have it lurking in your pantry, but I prefer the nutty taste of farro.
Cube the apple, cheddar and leftover chicken. If you can find an aged cheddar, all the better. Toss the farro with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add in the apple, cheddar, chicken and arugula. Toss together. To serve, top with pickled shallots. Everything is better with pickled shallots.