Whole Grain Dolmas Salad

The irony of summer is that the season that brings with it the year’s most amazing produce is also the most overscheduled. Not that I didn’t enjoy the bounty. Hello, Flamin’ Fury peaches layered with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and a dusting of pink Himalayan salt. But if I have been lax about sharing new recipes (and I have), it is because I have been busy celebrating the unions of some of my favorite couples, the grand entrance of Baby #3/Daughter #1 of a friend with excellent taste in names, and… the much anticipated arrival of my own niece, my sweet little Nugget. May this be the first of many metallurgic/food-related nicknames I give her!

Little piggies in a blanket...

Being an auntie is fantastic, even when that means receiving diaper accident photos on my phone while I’m having brunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant. And, moving right along..! I recently attended two dangerously fun wedding celebrations in the same weekend,  one of which was completely vegan, from the bride’s dress to the catering. There was a sushi station, a potato bar, and a spicy Indian buffet. It was the best wedding food I’ve ever had, and a reminder that vegan food can be a major crowd-pleaser. Thus inspired, I looked for a healthful, vegan recipe to aid in my Sunday recovery as I nursed battered feet and achy legs (from too much dance floor madness in heels) and a wicked headache (from two nights’ worth of dry martinis).

This salad captures the flavors of dolmas, the Middle Eastern staple, without the effort of rolling individual stuffed grape leaves. It’s filling, but not heavy, and the preserved grape leaves add a nice vinegar tang. In other words- hangover food that won’t leave you with additional regret. This recipe is for a double batch, which I strongly endorse, as this makes an excellent weekday lunch.

Whole Grain Dolmas Salad
Adapted from Sunset magazine

2 cups farro, or the entire contents of a 1 lb. package (closer to 2 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup dried currants, soaked in hot water to soften and drained
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 bundle preserved grape leaves (approximately 20 leaves), patted dry and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Crushed red pepper

Place the dry farro in a large colander and rinse well, picking over for debris as you rinse. Empty into a 3-quart saucepan, cover with plenty of water, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, or until farro is toothsome. When ready, drain and place in a large bowl. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

When farro is cool, add currants, walnuts, and grape leaves to the bowl. Toss with the lemon vinaigrette and add crushed red pepper to taste. Finish with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve at room temperature.

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