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Chopped Summer Vegetable Salad with Farro, Yogurt & Za’atar

Yogurt is delicious, and we think its totally under-utilized. Creamy yogurt is a delicious alternative to heavy butter and cream, and lends tang, richness and healthy probiotics anywhere you use it. Our new favorite cookbook is Janet Fletcher's Yogurt, which has totally changed our thoughts on it. You'll never think of yogurt for just granola again— there are dozens of incredible recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Inspired by the juicy bulgur salads of the Mediterranean and Middle East, this chopped summer vegetable salad features farro. Known as emmer in English, farro (the Italian word) is a type of wheat with a particularly nutty taste and pleasing chewiness. The cooked grains soak up the dressing without becoming sticky or soft, and they give this salad enough heft to serve for lunch. With farro's growing popularity, markets now carry several types. Look for lightly pearled farro (semi-perlato on Italian brands), which you can recognize by the slightly abraded appearance of the exterior, the bran layer. Whole, unpearled farro takes much longer to cook and doesn't absorb the dressing as well.

RECIPE: Chopped Summer Vegetable Salad with Farro, Yogurt & Za'atar

Serves 4


1 ⁄ 2 cup semi-pearled faro

For Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced (see note, page 88)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated or finely minced (see note, page 88)
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend)
  • 1 2 pound cucumbers, preferably Persian, Japanese, or hothouse English variety
  • 1 2 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 2 cup loosely packed whole cilantro leaves (no stems)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 large handful small arugula, watercress, or purslane leaves (no thick stems)
  • 1 2 pound ripe but firm tomatoes, cut into 1 3-inch dice
  • 1 2 large ripe but firm avocado, cut into 1 3-inch dice


  1. Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium; skim off any surface foam. Cover partially, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the farro is al dente—fully cooked but still firm to the tooth—about 30 minutes. Drain well in a sieve, and then transfer to a large bowl.
  2. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, fish sauce, garlic, and salt to taste.
  3. Spoon about 11 ⁄ 2 tablespoons dressing over the farro, enough to coat it lightly, and toss well with a fork. Taste and add more salt or a splash of vinegar if needed.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, and salt to taste. Make a bed of yogurt sauce on a large platter, using it all. Sprinkle the za'atar over the yogurt.
  5. If the cucumbers have a thick or waxed skin, peel them; if not, then leave unpeeled. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise. If they have large seeds, scrape out the seeds with a small spoon. If the seeds are small, no need to remove. Cut the cucumber into 1 ⁄ 3-inch dice and add to the farro along with the green onions, cilantro, and mint. Add more dressing and toss gently to mix. Add the arugula, tomatoes, and avocado. Drizzle with the remainder of the dressing and toss gently to avoid breaking up the tomatoes and avocado. Taste for salt and vinegar.
  6. Using your hands, mound the farro salad on top of the yogurt, leaving a visible border of yogurt. Serve immediately.

Grating versus Mincing Garlic: I typically use a Microplane a rasp-style grater available at kitchenware stores when adding garlic to yogurt. You can also mince the garlic finely with a knife but I find that grated garlic infuses the yogurt better. It practically dissolves so you don't perceive any little bits of garlic in the yogurt. However for a dish with sautéed garlic such as Orzo with Spicy Lamb Chickpeas & Yogurt (page 72) I prefer to mince it as grated garlic produces too strong a flavor.

Reprinted with permission from Yogurt, by Janet Fletcher, copyright 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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