Farro salad with tuna, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and arugula is very popular in Bologna. Many gastronomy shops sell it for porta via, or take-away. Any type of tuna you prefer will be fine although we are partial to Italian tuna packed in olive oil, which has more flavor than albacore tuna. This delightful farro salad combination makes an ideal warm weather main dish, light yet satisfying with great flavor!
4 main course servings. Boiling the farro is the only cooking needed, about 25 minutes.
3 cups (20 ounces or 567 g) dried farro
1 medium celery stalk, cut into large pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 7-ounce (198-g) cans Italian light tuna packed in olive oil, drained well
1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar
1 12-ounce jar of marinated grilled artichoke hearts plus a few spoons of its marinade (drained weight 8 ounces or 225 g)
6 ounces (170 g) fresh ripe cherry tomatoes, split in half (16 small)
1 medium stalk celery, diagonally sliced
1/2 bunch fresh arugula or wild arugula, torn or cut into wide julienne
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
Fruity extra-virgin olive oil as needed
Fresh lemon juice as needed
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Soaking and Boiling the Farro: Put the farro in a colander. Rinse under cool running water to remove any debris. Transfer to a large bowl. Pour in enough cool water to cover the farro by 2 inches (5 cm), to allow the farro to expand. Soak the farro for 1 to 2 hours or until the grains absorb some water, soften, and swell by 1 1/2 times their original volume, reducing cooking time. Drain.
In a pot of lightly salted water, add the soaked farro and a celery stalk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until tender. When finished cooking, the farro swells looking similar to pearl barley, and when tasted, it has a slight crunch to it. Drain the farro, nibble the celery stalk, and cool.
2. Farro Salad: Drain the canned tuna. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the red wine vinegar over the tuna breaking it apart into chunks with a fork. Red wine vinegar freshens it, immediately removing any tinned or fish aroma. (I do this all the time with canned tuna and it is amazing what a little red wine vinegar can do to instanteously improve canned tuna.)
Either reserve the artichoke hearts for garnishing each plate or add directly to the salad. Add the cherry tomatoes, celery, arugula, and red onion. Add the cooled, boiled farro and toss ingredients together. Season to taste with a few spoonsful of artichoke marinade or olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss again. Serve for a light meal at home, al fresco on your deck or boat, or for a picnic.