recently tchad, my husband, and i have been going out kayaking in casco bay. it’s fun to paddle around, look at other boats, and marvel at how much cooler it is on the water (must make a mental note for july, when the sun is pouring in through our gigantic and lovely wall of windows that face west… and mostly don’t open very much… and we are slowly cooking like ants under a magnifying glass…).
invariably, no matter how long we’re out on the water, when we get back, we are STARVING. i think it’s the whole sun + sea + physical activity thing at work. we haven’t even gone anywhere far from our house yet but by the time “we” get the boats back on the car and drive home, i basically want to be handed a bowl of something delicious and filling as soon as i walk in the door.
as a dedicated hater of mayonnaise, i’m always on the lookout for good summer salads that i can make in advance and then pile into a bowl on a moment’s notice/just as soon as i wash the sand off my feet. and as the weather warms up, lunches and dinners that i can eat chilled or at room temperature become more appealing. leafy salads are great, but i’m frequently hungry an hour later unless i put some filling ingredients in the salad. i don’t want the salad to be gloppy and heavy, however. this tuna and farro salad totally fits all of my (persnickety) criteria.
the farro, beans, and tuna contribute a ton of fiber and protein so that i’m not looking for a snack an hour after eating. the lemon juice, basil, oregano, and feta really brighten up the flavor so that i don’t feel like i’m eating a bland bowl of mush. and since the red onion and radish both contribute crunch, i am, in fact, not eating a bowl of mush (i also cook my farro so it’s just al dente and retains some chew). and there’s not a glop of mayo in sight.
i haven’t had a chance to field test this salad yet but i bet it would be excellent at a picnic or summer BBQ. there are a bunch of little islands in casco bay that tchad and i have talked about packing a lunch and exploring but so far we’ve been getting acclimated with shorter trips that don’t go quite so far out into the bay so i haven’t had a chance to bring the tuna and farro salad in the kayak yet.
well, i guess it’s not entirely true that i haven’t take this salad on any field trips: i did pack some in tupperware and eat it in my car between errands recently but that’s not exactly what i had in mind. i think there’s a good reason that there aren’t too many pins on pinterest depicting idyllic car picnics in the parking lots of big box stores… but i will say that my car did NOT smell like tuna, so i still consider my sad little field test a success.
hopefully you have a chance to get outside and enjoy the three-day weekend that we have coming up, and perhaps this tuna and farro salad can be part of your picnic or bbq or maybe even a kayak trip! happy weekending friends!
- 176 g. (1 cup / 6 ¼ oz.) farro (see note)
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup (2 oz. / 59 ml) fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- ¼ cup (2 oz. / 59 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 15 oz. (425 g.) canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (i used low sodium beans)
- 71 g. (2 cups packed / 2 ½ oz.) baby arugula
- 5 oz. (142 g.) canned solid white tuna, drained and flaked
- 46 g. (1/2 cup / 1 5/8 oz.) red onion, finely diced
- 55 g. (1/2 cup / 1 7/8 oz.) radish, ends trimmed and diced
- 160 g. (1 cup / 5 5/8 oz.) cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into ribbons
- 67 g. (1/2 cup / 2 3/8 oz.) feta, crumbled
- cook the farro according to the package directions (be sure to check to see if it needs an overnight soak!).
- while the farro is cooking, combine the lemon juice, oil, lemon zest, garlic, and oregano in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine.
- when the farro is done (i like it al dente, retaining some chew but no crunchiness), drain the farro, put the cannellini beans in the pot you used to cook the farro, then dump the warm farro back in the pot on top of the beans. leave the farro and beans for a few minutes so the residual heat from the farro can warm the beans slightly. (if your beans started off colder than room temperature, you’ll need to heat them up slightly on their own as there won’t be enough heat from the farro.)
- after the farro and beans have sat for a few minutes, add the arugula on top then pour the dressing over the top. stir to combine and distribute the dressing. add the tuna, red onion, radish, and tomatoes. stir again to mix everything together. add the feta and basil, stir gently one more time to distribute the cheese and basil without mushing up the cheese.
- serve the salad as is (slightly warm), at room temperature, or chilled. i ate the first serving as is after i made it then ate subsequent leftovers straight out of the fridge and liked it both ways.
farro: there are several different types of farro, the main difference being how the grain is processed (or not), which then impacts the cooking time (and whether the grain requires an overnight presoak). i look for farro that takes around 20 minutes to cook without a presoak but the choice is up to you, just make sure you know which kind you have. it’s often easier to just read the instructions, rather than try to parse the label on the front.
tightly covered leftovers will last in the refrigerator for 5 days.
adapted from tuna and orzo salad with parmesan and basil found in eating in the middle by andie mitchell.