The Umbrian countryside is filled with sunflowers turning to face the arc of the sun over the course of the day. Although in Italy the seeds from these sunflowers are usually pressed for their oil, it seemed logical to us to pair them with farro, a nutritious hearty grain seen throughout that country. It can be found in most Italian grocery stores. The colors of the Italian flag are tossed into the mix -- bright green asparagus, rosy red grape tomatoes, and creamy white ricotta salata.
2 cups farro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 small red onion, cut into small dice
1 cup (5 ounces) sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled or chopped ricotta salata
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup chiffonade of fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the farro and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 4 inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a serving bowl large enough to hold the remaining ingredients.
2. While the farro is simmering, cook the asparagus in a pot of boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt for 2 minutes. Drain well, rinse in cold water, and add to the cooled farro.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Keep the salad at a cool room temperature for 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature at least 1 hour before serving.
Excerpted from In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Photography by Gentl & Hyers/Edge. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Gentle & Hyers/Edge. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
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