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 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!


Heidi, 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.


Heidi, 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.


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