Grilled Eggplant and Farro Salad

by Anne Bennett on August 5, 2012

I’m not a big Bobby Flay fan, but when I stumbled onto this recipe on foodnetwork.com and saw the accompanying how-to video, I decided that I should broaden my culinary horizons. I have to admit, the guy can grill.

The web abounds with farro recipes, farro being one of the newest trendy grains (it’s a species of wheat and is similar in taste and texture to barley), but Flay’s riff with grilled eggplant caught my eye. This is an uncomplicated dish with few ingredients: the aforementioned eggplant, red onion, grape tomatoes, fresh dill and farro. That, and a mustardy vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar* combine to make this an unusual, crunchy/tangy/refreshing summer entree.

Pearled farro (which is what Costco sells) takes only about 15 minutes to cook and can be used either hot or at room temperature. For my tastes, farro has a meatier texture than brown rice, which I find preferable in salad recipes.

Don’t overcook the eggplant. You want it to retain some texture so that when you chop it into bite-sized pieces it keeps its shape. And don’t leave out the dill. Flay puts a generous amount into the vinaigrette, but I chopped mine up and tossed it right into the salad.

1 1/2 cups farro
3 Japanese (baby) eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 small red onion, thickly sliced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Sherry Vinaigrette

Cook farro according to package directions, or cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Heat grill; brush eggplant and onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side until lightly browned and remove from grill. Allow to slightly cool and slice into 1-inch chunks.

Combine farro, eggplant, onion, tomatoes and chopped dill in a large serving bowl. Add sherry vinaigrette and stir to combine. Garnish with additional dill.

*Good sherry vinegar comes from Spain. I get the De Soto brand at Williams Sonoma. You can also use red wine vinegar or, as Flay suggests, balsamic.

Sherry Vinaigrette

1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a salad shaker and shake.

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