Exploding with color and flavor, this farro salad recipe has it all: roasted sweet potatoes, spicy roasted poblano peppers, black beans, corn, and cilantro, with an easy homemade chili lime dressing.
Why you’ll love it: This is one of my favorite salads! Leftovers are great for lunches; you’ll be glad this recipe makes a big batch.
How long it takes: just over an hour
Equipment you’ll need: sheet pan, oven, large bowl
Farro salads are way at the top of my favorites list. Roasted vegetables are right up there, too. So this southwestern farro salad recipe with roasted sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, and red onions has rocketed right to the top. Friends, I could eat this salad every day and not grow tired of it! I know you’re going to love it too!
What Is Farro?
Have you tried farro yet? Farro has been around for literally thousands of years but has more recently become popular again. It’s an ancient wheat grain, usually emmer wheat, although it can be einkorn or spelt.
Farro has a nutty flavor, a chewy texture, and loads of health benefits. It is a whole grain and is NOT gluten-free.
So delicious, and healthy, this vegetarian farro salad recipe is sure to become one of your favorites, too.
About This Salad
If you’re looking for a side salad with lettuce or greens, southwestern farro salad isn’t it. This farro salad recipe is hearty, perfect for a vegetarian main dish, or a substantial side dish.
Enjoy it for a satisfying lunch or dinner. You won’t be feeling hungry again in an hour because the complex carbohydrates will stick with you for awhile.
I often bring this salad to potlucks or other dinners. It can be made a couple of hours ahead and it always goes well. Everyone seems to love it.
I’ll get you started here and give you helpful tips. As always, you’ll find the printable recipe card near the end of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Cooked Farro: You can usually find farro in grocery stores or online. It can be pearled, semi-pearled, or whole. All three choices are great; pearled farro cooks more quickly than whole farro. It has a milder flavor but fewer nutrients because the husk and bran have been removed.
- Poblano Peppers: Very dark green in color, poblano peppers are longer and narrower than bell peppers, and can be more spicy. The heat level seems to vary a lot. If you prefer, substitute bell peppers.
- Sweet Potatoes: You’ll need a couple of good-sized sweet potatoes. Scrub and trim them well; they don’t need to be peeled.
- Red Onion: This type of onion is flavorful and holds its shape well when roasted but other onions are fine. Use what you have.
- Olive Oil: The vegetables are tossed with olive oil before roasting. You’ll also add olive oil to the easy homemade dressing.
- Black Beans: I usually look for low-sodium beans. Drain the beans in a small colander in the sink; rinse the sludgy stuff off with water, and drain again.
- Corn: In a perfect world, we’d always use corn freshly cut off the cob. It’s so good! But … a can of corn is just fine. Frozen corn, too.
- Queso Fresco: This fresh Mexican cheese is soft and crumbly, somewhat like feta cheese. It’s mild in flavor.
- Fresh Cilantro: It’s okay to use some small stems as well as the leaves. Be sure to rinse and dry it as well as you can.
- Homemade Dressing: You’ll need the juice from a couple of limes, olive oil, honey, and chili powder.
How To Make This Recipe
Begin by making the farro. Follow the package directions. It can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on what type it is. This can easily be done ahead of time. I almost always have a couple bags of cooked farro in my freezer.
Roast the poblanos using one of the 4 methods outlined in this post. For this farro salad recipe, I recommend using the oven method since you’ll be using the oven anyways to roast the sweet potatoes and red onions. You might as well do it all at once, right?
Whisk together the easy dressing: lime juice, olive oil, honey, and chili powder. By the way, this dressing is delicious on all sorts of salads with a southwestern flair.
Okay, now it’s time to assemble that delicious southwestern farro salad! Combine the roasted vegetables, farro, black beans, corn, queso fresco, and cilantro, then gently fold in the dressing.
Garnish with more cheese and cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!
Make It Your Own
- Vegan/dairy-free: Make this salad dairy-free simply by leaving out the cheese, or using a non-dairy cheese. Vegans, same thing, and use agave instead of honey.
- Gluten-free: Substitute another sturdy grain for the farro, such as quinoa or brown rice.
- Less spicy: Substitute red or green bell peppers for the poblano peppers, cut into one inch pieces. You can roast those right with the sweet potatoes and red onions, no need to peel.
- Seasoning alternative: Instead of chili powder, make the dressing with southwest spice blend for a smokier flavor.
- Short cut: Use a store-bought dressing of your choice instead of making your own.
Make the farro. You can make the components of the salad ahead. I usually cook the whole bag of farro at once so I can easily put together one of the recipes listed below, or a brand new one. Make a big batch of farro and keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months (Bob’s Red Mill has more information about this, if you’re interested). Cooked farro will keep in the fridge for four to five days.
Roast the veggies ahead of time, too. They can be stored in the fridge for at least three to four days.
Have some salad left over? Tightly covered, southwestern farro salad will keep in the fridge for three to four days. It will taste just as good as the day you made it. Perfect for lunchboxes, too.
More Farro Recipes
Since farro is so nutritious, filling, and versatile, I like to use it in lots of recipes. Here’s a few for you to consider:
- Kale Salad with farro and honey Dijon dressing
- Farro Salad with butternut squash, bacon, and cranberries (perfect for fall)
- Farro Salad with za’atar, broccoli and feta (with flavors of the Middle East)
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with farro, sausage, and apples
- Instant Pot Farro Stuffing with sausage and sweet potatoes (a main dish, or a hearty side)
- Chicken Soup with Farro and Vegetables
- 3 poblano peppers
- 2 cups cooked farro, cooked according to package directions
- 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ red onion, cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15.25 oz.) corn, drained, or 1 ½ cups fresh kernels (thawed frozen corn is fine, too)
- ½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Optional garnishes: additional chopped cilantro and queso fresco
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place whole poblano peppers on a baking sheet (line with foil for easy clean-up) and roast for 40 minutes or until skins are blackened, flipping once.
- Meanwhile, on a separate baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes and onions with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring once, or until golden brown and fork tender.
- When peppers are blackened, place them in a plastic bag, or a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let cool for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off skins using your hands or a paper towel. Discard skin. Remove stems and seeds. Dice.
- In a large bowl, combine farro, roasted sweet potatoes and onions, diced poblanos, black beans, corn, queso fresco, and cilantro.
- In a small measuring cup, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, honey, and chili powder. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed
- Serve immediately or store tightly covered in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- Dairy-free: omit cheese, or use a non-dairy cheese.
- Vegan: omit cheese, use agave instead of honey.
- Gluten free: Use quinoa or brown rice instead of farro.
- For less spiciness, substitute red or green bell peppers for the poblanos. Cut the peppers into one inch chunks and roast them right with the sweet potatoes and onions.
- Use a store-bought dressing of your choice instead of making your own.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.