Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I’ve talked about this before, but one thing I’m still wrestling with—even after 12 years in the food blog game—is the feeling that I need to have a perfectly curated recipe collection with just one ideal example of each type of recipe. (Being an editor, essentially a professional content curator, doesn’t help. It’s a difficult reflex to turn off at the end of the day.) When I see a recipe that looks enticing but has notable similarities to a recipe I already have, I have to resist the urge to click on by. I remind myself that there are only so many ingredients in the world, so there’s bound to be overlap from time to time, trying new recipes is fun and low-stakes, and who cares if my recipe collection is sprawling and inconsistent? Plus, every now and then you find a better roasted chicken or a kickass cauliflower soup that supplants the old one.

Thus, when I saw this pasta salad recipe at Budget Bytes, my first impulse was to pass it over, even though it looked delicious. After all, I already have a favorite pasta salad recipe, and this one was basically Mediterranean pepper salad meets chicken gyros meets tabbouleh anyway. I’m covered! But I still wanted it, so I threw caution to the wind and made it—using farro instead, because I’m trying not to eat pasta every week. And you know what? Despite having very similar ingredients and flavor profile to dishes I’ve already tried, this one is its own thing—and that thing is a fresh, colorful, crunchy, savory, lemon-bright, utterly satisfying main-dish salad, aka everything I want in a summer meal. Even A, not a farro fan, pronounced it “not bad,” which translates into high praise. So lesson learned, I guess? Life is messy and repetitive, but sometimes it brings us good salad.

1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, divided
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup farro
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium Persian cucumbers, diced
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2-4 ounces feta
  1. Remove the zest from the lemon and set it aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a separate bowl. You’ll need at least ¼ cup juice.
  2. Prepare the dressing/marinade by mincing two of the three cloves of garlic and combining them in a small bowl with ¼ cup lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and a pinch of the lemon zest. Whisk these ingredients until well combined.
  3. Place the chicken thighs in a ziplock bag and add half of the dressing, saving the rest to add to the salad later. Mince one more clove of garlic and add it to the chicken and marinade. Squeeze the air out and massage the bag to make sure the thighs are well coated in the marinade. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, cook the farro according to the package directions, drain in a colander, and let cool to room temperature.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, add them to the pan, and cook on each side until they are well browned and cooked through (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Once it’s slightly cooled, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Finally, build the salad. Add the cooked and cooled farro to a large bowl. Top with the bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, and chopped chicken. Crumble the feta over the top and add a pinch or two of the lemon zest. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.
Serves: 4-6
Time: 1 hour, plus 30 minutes to 24 hours marinating time
Leftover potential: Great.

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