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

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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... ...TONIGHT. 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. xx

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!


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