Buttermilk Farro Salad Recipe

A buttermilk farro salad inspired by one I had at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon - farro with shaved radishes, zucchini, and fennel tossed with a tangy herbed buttermilk vinaigrette.

Buttermilk Farro Salad

Today a bit of an apology is in order. Some of you might recall a wheat berry salad I mentioned back in May. I had it at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon and went back two days in a row to have it for lunch. It has taken me this long to do a farro version in my own kitchen, and my regret is that three months have passed when we all could have been enjoying it. The salad? Simple enough. Plump grains and seasonal vegetables tossed with an herb-flecked buttermilk dressing. I hope I'm not over-selling it, but this salad is really good. And I have my heart set on you liking it as much as I do.

Buttermilk Farro Salad

So, this is the sort of thing that might take the place of a potato or macaroni salad at a BBQ or picnic - creamy, tangy, starchy. It travels well. Even fully dressed it travels well. For those of you interested, the dressing is cream and mayo-free. And to make the whole thing even better, you can really load it up with even more vegetables (or alternately, salad greens) than I call for. The recipe makes a good amount of extra dressing, so you have some latitude there. In this version I use paper-thin slices of baby radishes, zucchini, and fennel. I thought about shaving corn kernels into the bowl, but the corn I bought was a bit funky, so I skipped out on that. If you have farro cooked and on hand, this becomes a no-cook recipe.

Buttermilk Farro Salad

A couple notes...Instead of making a more traditional buttermilk dressing here, I made a buttermilk vinaigrette of sorts. It's tangy. Tangy enough that I normally might try to take the edge off it a bit. It's also on the thin side. Don't mess with it. Once it hits the starchy farro, the grains slurp it up, and everything balances out quite nicely. But use a good white-wine vinegar, one that tastes good - it will make a difference. Also, as far as variations go, I can't wait to try a version with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, or even a fall version with spice-roasted squash. The Clyde Common version had fennel, chives, radishes, carrots, and wild arugula. 

And if you're looking for more ways to use zucchini, here's where you can find a lot of good zucchini recipes.

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Buttermilk Farro Salad Recipe

I used semi-pearled farro here, but you can certainly substitute whole farro, wheat berries, barley, or other plump grains. I say to serve this at room temperature, but actually, I like this salad warm, room temperature, and chilled. It's good the day after, and for a couple days after that. Just revive with a splash of the leftover dressing.

2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup / 240 ml buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 ml good-quality white wine vinegar
1/4 cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped thyme

7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin

4 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
chopped chives for garnish

Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.

In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro grains. Add 1 cup / 240 ml of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Serves 8.

Prep time: 20 minutes

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Would a champagne vinegar work? Love the blog! This is the only food blog that I can say I read faithfully.
HS: Thanks Jess. Champagne vinegar will work nicely here.


Am I going crazy, or is the “Next page” button missing? I can’t scroll through to see your last few recipes. P.S. I’ve been coming to this site for years now. Love it.
HS: Hi Carrie, thanks! You should be able to click on the main image at the top to either go backward or forward. Or, at the base of the page there are text links that can take you to the previous or next recipe. Hope this helps.


Thank you for posting this recipe! I have eaten that salad several times and I totally forgot that it had arugula. I made it for a party last night and it was a hit!


I made this salad for dinner. I was intending to have leftovers for lunch the next day, but it disappeared! I used about 2 cups of Israeli couscous instead of farrow. It tasted great, but will definitely use the recommended 4 cups of grains next time to make more.


I just finished making this- it is delicious!
I did not have radishes or garlic on hand, so I substituted a shallot in the dressing and doubled the amount of fennel.
It might be a bit too tangy for my kids, so I am going to add cubed feta cheese to their servings.


i made this this weekend for an impromptu bbq and it was a hit! quick, easy, and inexpensive!
i had two quick questions:
roughly how much farro uncooked = 4 cups cooked? each grain is a little different and it’s not mentioned in the recipe, nor on the packaging for the farro i had.
it’s got a great crunch to it, and i found myself thinking some added nuts might be nice for additional protein and crunch. what would you suggest?


This looks fantastic. I’d like to try it this weekend. A few questions…does anyone have brand suggestions for “a good quality white wine vinegar”? And do you think it would be possible to make the dressing a little thicker for use on a salad….if so what would be best way?


Hi Heidi,
I can not eat vinegar and usually replace it with lemon. Not sure if it will work with this dressing though. Do you have any suggestions?
Congradulations on your amazing work.
Looking forward to the new book!


This sure looks delicious! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


this looks delicious. I don’t care for radishes, but I think that you could add the vegies that you like and it would be delicious! I have never had farro, but I have had couscous, quinoa, and other grains. I will have to try it.


I love a good salad and this one looks like one for my own cook book. It looks fresh and cool for those hot summer days.


This looks so amazing! Great blog too…I will definitely be back:)


what a stunning salad! Will definitely be trying.

Aliya LeeKong

Nice idea and a good way to use buttermilk leftover from pancakes. Do you think that kasha could be substituted for the farro for a gluten-free version?
Or maybe short grained rice?


The dressing sounds great! Seems like it would work for other salads as well. Can’t wait to try it out!


That looks very good. I always find it a bit daunting to try and figure out where to get all of these ingredients I wouldn’t commonly find in the everyday grocery store. (like farro) Do you do a good portion of your shopping at a health food store?


I just love thin cut radishes! And I just love plump grain salads.
Thanks also for the Portland shout out.
Next time you’ll have to come an hour south to Salem and try The Wild Pear – worth the drive!


I came home from yoga and started slicing (no mandoline here…) About an hour in, I started wondering whether it would be worthwhile! It is!!!
I used barley, as I cannot eat wheat/farro. Perfectly lovely. For the gluten-free who might read your site, perhaps a short-grain brown rice would stand up well, or g-f oat groats if available.
Thank you for a wonderful new way to use my CSA box!


This salad looks yum!!
Thank you for sharing this healthy salad.
Bridget Davis ~ The Internet Chef
Sydney [Australia]

Bridget Davis

I made a big batch of this and have been eating it for lunch this week–it’s delicious! I subbed corn for fennel and basil for dill. Thanks for another great light recipe! 🙂


I made this for a family get together and it was the best! Everything as promised. It travelled well, the farro really soaked up the dressing, and it was tangy and delicious. The only thing I added was avocado because lets face it, what can’t use a little cado? I just love your site.


I wanted to try this right away. Made it last night but I changed it a little. I don’t care for fennel so I substituted celery root and I added halved grape tomatoes. This salad is sooo good! The dressing is perfect with the garlic and dill. It all blends so nicely. I”m having it for lunch too! Thanks Heidi.


Can I just add that your Pierce Street Vegetarian Chilli is A M A Z I N G? I tried it at the weekend and it was so good, I am still dreaming about it now. I wanted to post a comment on the actual recipe but couldn’t. Thank you for brining this chilli into my life 🙂


This salad looks gorgeous!
I really like your blog 🙂


That looks delicious! Radishes are so beautiful. I’d never really used Farro before I discovered 101, it is madly versatile and so nourishing.


Sounds awesome! I’m a vegan, so I’m going to play around with coconut milk for the dressing instead of buttermilk, and I think it will be amazing..


The flavors of this salad are so appealing to me. I hope I get the chance to try this soon!

my little expat kitchen

The perfect summer salad. So much better than potato salad or macaroni salad!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

I have been really into farro lately. So yummy! And this dressing looks amazing. I love your idea of a fall version with squash – I will have to try that!


I have so much zucchini in my garden and I was running out of unique ideas. This is perfect! Thanks!


Buttermilk and grains are a match made in heaven. Can’t wait to try this!

Julie Anne Rhodes

At our family reunion today one of the dishes was this salad made by yours truly. I was hesitant to use raw fennel and raw zucchini but decided to give it a try and I was glad I did (I thought of first sauteing the fennel and zucchini). Wonderful salad! Making it a couple of hours ahead of dinner time allows the dressing to wilt the vegetables slightly. The dressing is delicious. The thinly sliced zucchini and fennel work really well. The salad has a nice crunch.
Thank you! I have forwarded your blog to my mother and two sisters. Looks like you’re going worldwide!


What a beautiful and healthy salad!!! I’m excited to try it, especially the buttermilk dressing! I have never made it before, always watching calories but this can be made lighter, YAY!!!
I’ll get busy and see you soon!
Thanks! Lisa

Lisa @ www.bakedinmaine.com

What a beautiful and healthy salad!!! I’m excited to try it, especially the buttermilk dressing! I have never made it before, always watching calories but this can be made lighter, YAY!!!
I’ll get busy and see you soon!
Thanks! Lisa

Lisa @ www.bakedinmaine.com

@michael, I make plum jam in the summer all the time by just chopping the fruit up into big chunks, putting it onto a rimmed baking sheet, and plopping it in the oven at 375. Stir every fifteen minutes or so. The plums (I’ve used all kinds) will soften and get juicy, then after a bit they’ll thicken up to a jammy consistency. When they’re thick enough for you, pull them out of the oven & scrape the jam into a jar. Keep it in the fridge or freezer.


Your zucchini gratin recipe changed my world. Thanks for the wonderful recipes, I’m putting farro and buttermilk on my grocery list as we speak. Your lovely creations make me feel like a healthier person – thanks!

Rhubarb and Venison

yummmy yum yum… can’t wait to try this one out. I so love buttermilk and Farro… Thanks.

Nicole @ The Dirty Oven

I made a double batch of this salad this evening–half for our dinner (and lunch tomorrow), and half for some friends that just had a baby.
And…when I started typing this I realized that the whole meal was yours! We had your Firecracker Cornbread and your Yucatan Street Corn, too.
I make so many of your recipes, and so many dishes that are informed and inspired by things I’ve seen on the site and in your books (cannot wait for the new one!). Thank you!


This is a pretty salad. I have never had anything like this before. I can not wait to try it and I wish I had a pretty serving dish, like the one you have.


J’ai découvert ton site il y a quelques semaines seulement, j’adore tout ce que j’y trouve.
Merci beaucoup!


I enjoy your cooking very much,
& have tried some of your recilies,
Thank you.
Do you have a recipe for wild plumb jam, also cultivated plumbs

Michael Dore

I see the radishes and zucchini in your photo.. Are the slices that look like onions the fennel?

Janet Paula Lieber

Heidi, just wondering exactly what to do with the fennel. Do you mean to slice it like the radishes and zucchini? It just says one bulb fennel trimmed.
Planning to make this in the next few days. I’m not a fan of radishes, but my husband is, and he also loves creamy salads like potato salads, so I’m hoping this will be a hit with him.

Christine Doiron

this looks delightful! next time you are in portland, go to olympic provisions. it’s a charcuterie small plate kind of place, but their vegetable dishes will knock your socks off it’s so genius!


I normally don’t like creamy dressings, but I may convert with this recipe. You’ve given me ideas for Sundays BBQ.

Dina Avila

I can’t wait to make this. I had never cooked with Farro before ‘meeting’ you. I had bought a bag while on a trip to Seattle one year but never used it. Since reading your recipes I have used it many times and we all love it. Also I always like buttermilk in a recipe. So this is definitely on my to-make list.


other than the delightful recipe those baby radish are pure poetry!


This sounds sooo good but for us GF folks how would quinoa work instead of the farro.


The buttermilk vinaigrette sounds delish! Can’t wait to try farro.


After years of searching, I’ve finally found farro in Kentucky! Thank you Whole Foods.

A Teenage Gourmet

Mmm, sounds like a lovely salad. Love buttermilk, too.
BTW, did you know that your site is now carrying loud auto-play video commercials? I just got blasted with the start of an ad for Kraft american singles. Bleh.


Never would’ve thought to toss a buttermilk dressing with farro. Check.
Never have I seen such charming radishes. Double check. Filing this under smart and dashing.


Make my day. I love salads. Is home made buttermilk a good substitute? Thanks.


eek! I can’t wait to try this, I have fennel and radishes to use up…I have a giant bag of kamut, do you think that would be an ok substitute for the farro?


I’d love to try a salad like this one day, Buttermilk is not all that common in NZ yet. Sounds great. I wonder if Kefir could be used in place of buttermilk? Lovely rasdish shots, puts mine to shame 😉


Chop thyme?


OOPS! Sorry Heidi, word left out. I’d like to see you on the other side of the Iron Chef table. Next time I’ll proof read.


I hope to see you as a judge on Iron Chef America one day. David Kinch did a wonderful job representing our area on one side of the table, it would be great to see you on the side.
I will be making the buttermilk farro salad, it looks great! Thank you.


can’t wait to try this. We love farro salads. Thanks for turning us on to it. Our local stores even carry it now–so no more trekking up to Rainbow to buy some. Though they still carry only ridiculously small bags.


Heidi, Heidi, Heidi!
I was just showing someone your website and reading some of your old posts and marveling at your genius; and then I had the overwhelming urge to tell you: You’re the greatest, and I want to be your friend.
Okay. Enough creepiness for the day.

Satpreet Kahlon

its so good.


Wow, this sounds delicious! I love buttermilk (and, conveniently, the carton in my fridge will soon expire). I’ll try this out this weekend.


This looks refreshing–something I need on a hot day like today. Thanks!

Amanda at Enchanted Fig

heidi-this looks delicious. i think cucumbers may be nice with the radishes in place of the squash.
i just made a salad for lunch i thought you would like.


Just amazing! This looks very good. I must try this one.

The Southern Cookbook

Just tried the buttermilk dressing…. yummmmm!!
I love your newsletter and wish it came more often


Thank you, Heidi. I’m a new follower and great admirer of your blog. I can’t wait to try this recipe because I love farro and buttermilk dressings — especially on the acidic end of the spectrum.
Question for you: I have some dried kala channa — black chick peas. There are, of course, traditional Indian recipes for these beans, but I’m wondering if you’ve ever experimented with them outside their traditional context and, if so, what you’d do with them. For instance, would they do well in a Mediterranean stew with eggplant and all the usual suspects?
Many thanks for your delightful posts.


My husband just brought in some zucchini from the garden this morning, and it is begging to be transformed into this salad. And I will indeed appease it…
Can’t wait to try the ‘buttermilk vinaigrette.’
Thank you and happy weekend:).

Torrie @ a place to share...

I love reading your recipes and blog and seeing all your wonderful food photography, Heidi. I’ve tried several of your recipes (one of my favorites being the grilled zucchini and quinoa with avocado-lime dressing & feta) — so I look forward to trying yet another creative and very delicious-looking recipe.
Thanks also for answering a previous poster’s question on farro substitute — I’m completely unfamiliar with farro, and don’t think I’ve ever seen it at my local organic foods co-op — but I’m quite sure I can get pearled barley.
Thanks again — happy August! –tamsyn


Thanks for those of you who chipped in with buttermilk making/subbing tips for me. Will try making my own I think.


OK! I’ve been waiting for a Buttermilk Date!
It’s time………and Faro is a Fantastic choice.
I eat at the Clyde regularly………Love the meals and staff. My youngest will like the NO! Mayo concept.

keli aiello

I just saw another blog recipe the other day using wheat berries; I love delving into dishes with unique but not really foreign ingredients like this.
I just made a buttermilk dressing recipe for my latest post, a barbecue chicken cobb salad. Add a bit of heat to that buttermilk and it’s another whole new and great experience!

Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle

So happy to see this recipe, as I have loads of fresh buttermilk in the fridge right now, from making butter. Can’t wait to try this, thank you!


HI Heidi, I am writing to you from hackney in east london, i run a pop-up restaurant here amongst other things and thought you might want to know that I made the Blackberry chile syrup and used it to top a watermelon cucumber gazpacho….GORGEOUS!!!! XXX have a look at my BBC cookery show online it was called Neneh and Andi dish it up x


You truly are inspiring…I can’t resist asking you which mandoline you love…and do you have a secret gadget you like for julienne slicing? Thanks so much for your truly outstanding blog…Ellen

ellen portal

Oh, this is gorgeous! I love the sound of the buttermilk vinaigrette, too. Can’t wait to try this!

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

Just popping in a second time today, Heidi, to let you know how much we loved this recipe. We made it with the roasted baby tomatoes for lunch & it was super tasty. I should have doubled the recipe – we ate it all & there is no more left over for tomorrow. I didn’t think the kids were going to inhale it! Carolina

The Muse of The Day

This looks delightful. The buttermilk vinaigrette sounds lovely. I’m going to make a huge batch and go wild!
Great recipe, thanks!


This salad looks very appealing. I love the striking radishes.

dinners and dreams

Mmm, Clyde Common is near my office. Anything inspired by their lunches has got to be good. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.


I love farro salads. They are so filling and rewarding, and you are right, they do keep very well! I usually dress mine with pesto, but this buttermilk dressing is very interesting. I’ll trust you on not trying to take off the sour edge from the dressing. Thanks for sharing.


I love this salad-it’s a fusion for me of my Southern roots and new California home! I adore buttermilk, and have learned to love whole grains out here. This is my lunch today for sure-thanks!


Yum, this is right up my alley. I came to the conclusion this spring that the radish is the most adorable vegetable. 🙂


I’m always looking for ways to use up buttermilk, since typically a recipe calls for just a small amount and then I’m left with more than half a carton. You’ve got an intriguing combination of ingredients here — looking forward to trying this one.

Becky and the Beanstock

gorgeous salad! I’m not sure if i like radishes enough to eat that much at one time, but it sounds as if it’d be good with all sorts of substitutions. i LOVE buttermilk dressings, so this is perfect!

heather @ chiknpastry

Your food photography and styling is impeccable! I love keeping up with your blog, it inspires me to branch out and try new things. I am also excited to make this delicious salad! There’s nothing I love more than a nice hearty grain/veggie/greens salad combo. I’m curious as to how you made the radishes, etc so thinly sliced? A knife, mandolin? My hand-cut slices never seem to turn out quite so thin. I’d love to know your secret! Thanks again for sharing such inspiring, beautiful posts on delicious food with a healthful twist! –Almira
HS: Thanks Almira – I used my mandoline, but you can certainly slice by hand here if you don’t have one.

Healthy Republic

this salad looks so pretty! i’ve never tried farro before.

Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef

@Sophie: You can easily make your own buttermilk at home! This is a better option than buying those 1 liter cartons here in the states that end up half unused. Just add 1 tablespoon of acid (such as lemon juice or white wine vinegar which, tada, you already have on hand for this recipe) per one cup of skim milk and let it sit for a few minutes. 🙂


This is perfect! I’m training for a marathon and was just miserable at the thought of yet another bowl of pasta this tonight.

Hungry Sofia

I’ve been using buttermilk in a lot of desserts lately, and now that I’ve seen this, I think I need to branch out.


Your timing is perfect, I just bought some fresh buttermilk from a local farm. It looks like we will be having a great lunch thanks to you. Carolina

The Muse of The Day

Would yogurt be an acceptable substitute for the buttermilk?
HS: Hmm. I’m actually not sure – I think using real buttermilk is key here.


I’m ready to try the slow-roasted cherry tomato variation! I have far too many of them. I’m open to suggestions as to what else I should include with them.
Heidi, I always look forward to your new recipes and I can’t wait for your new book to come out!
HS: Thanks Monica


This is so pretty Heidi.
I’ve been using radish a lot recently – I’m not so wild about them on their own but they add a lovely combination of fresh appearance and taste to other dishes.
Buttermilk is really difficult to come by in the UK. What do people think might work as an alternative?


really intrigued by this recipe – I will save this and try it out later. Farro and Pearl Barley (As we call it here in Scotland) are pretty much the same thing right?
HS: Pearl barley would be a fine substitute here Justin.

Justin Orde

Oh wow, what a great salad!

Simply Life

What a brilliant salad dressing recipe! Buttermilk is such a versatile product.
🙂 Mandy

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book

That looks so eloquent and appetizing at the same time! I’m not a fan of radishes, but I like all the other ingredients. 🙂

Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

Oh, buttermilk in the fridge and an empty weekend ahead. Can’t wait.


The buttermilk dressing sounds terrific , and i’d love the flavors in this farro salad .


Looks and sounds wonderful, Heidi! I’ve never heard of a buttermilk dressing like this before. I just made a batch of tarragon white wine vinegar, which I think would be amazing in this! Thanks for yet another beautiful recipe full of healthy ingredients.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

Looks beautiful.. I love those mini radishes!
By the way – the link given is for 6-seed soda bread..


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