Today I'm excited to be sharing this award-winning salad with you! Here's the back story - several weeks ago, I entered a recipe for the Salad Smackdown contest for a local grocery store. Entering in one recipe contest per month is a business goal I set for myself back in March, but unfortunately June was the first month I actually got around to making it happen. Needless to say, I was over-the-top surprised and thrilled to learn that my first submission won the contest! How's that for encouragement to press on in achieving goals???
This salad is a twist on a stone fruit and grain salad that I made for several of my personal chef clients in Dallas last summer. It was a well-received favorite, and I've added a new key ingredient to change things up a bit - farro. Ryan and I were getting tired of grain salads made with quinoa, rice, or pasta so farro proved to be a welcome and deliciously healthy change.
Farro is categorized as an "ancient grain" and has been a food staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. It's found in many traditional Italian dishes and has a flavor profile similar to the wheat berry. Nutritionally speaking, it's high in fiber, B vitamins, and zinc. If you want to get the whole grain nutritional benefit of farro, make sure to choose whole farro at the grocery store. Package instructions may ask you to soak it overnight, but you can certainly cook it longer and skip this step. Pearled farro will be more processed but require a shorter cooking time.
This nutty, chewy grain is a great substitute for rice, quinoa, or wheat berries, tastes great in soups and stews, and can even be used to soak up your favorite pasta sauce. I've made extra before and frozen the leftovers to throw in a soup or pasta dish and it works beautifully.
Please try this ultra-flavorful, fresh, and seasonal recipe and let me know what you think! Upload pictures of your salad to Instagram and label them with the hashtag #dietitianinthekitchen. I'd love to see your creations!
Basil Pesto Chicken, Farro and Nectarine Salad
- 2 cups Spring Mix salad greens
- 2 cups Arugula
- 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
- ¼ cup prepared or homemade spinach basil pesto
- 1 cup cooked farro cook according to package directions
- 1 ripe nectarine cut into cubes
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
Honey Balsamic Dressing:
- In small bowl combine 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, and ½ cup balsamic vinegar. Whisk with a whisk or fork until well-incorporated. In a steady slow stream, gradually add ½ cup olive oil to vinegar mixture until well-combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper (Only takes a little!) Dressing will keep in fridge up to 2 weeks. Set refrigerated dressing out at room temp 15 min before serving or run container under warm water to loosen.
- Toss together chicken, pesto, farro, and nectarines.
- Place salad greens on a plate. Top with chicken and farro mixture. Divide sunflower seeds evenly among plates.
- Drizzle salads with 2 T each of honey balsamic dressing.