Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recipe for Vegan Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pine Nuts and Tahini-Sumac Vinaigrette

Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad for a Thanksgiving recipe or a Meatless Monday idea.

Recipe ideas are constantly popping into my head, and every once in a while I get one that ends up being a complete winner like this Vegan Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Vegan Salad with Pine Nuts and Tahini-Sumac Vinaigrette.  This salad has so many of my favorite flavors that anyone who knows my taste preferences won't be surprised that I like it, but even my nephew Jake (who's a tiny bit averse to sweet potatoes ) gobbled this up and pronounced it "very good."  And when I ate the leftovers a couple of days later, I was pleasantly surprised how good the salad was after being in the fridge.  Even if you're not sure how much you like sweet potatoes, if you like the other flavors here I'm betting you'll like this salad.

Most people know about roasted sweet potatoes and pine nuts, but there are other ingredients here that may be new to some.  Farro (fahr-oh) is a type of wheat from Italy that's flavorful and chewy, Tahini (tah-hee-nee) is a ground sesame paste that adds flavor to middle eastern foods, and Sumac (soo-mack) is a middle eastern spice that tastes slightly lemony.   I used vegetable stock to cook the farro, which makes the salad vegan and a perfect choice for Meatless Monday this week.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web or visit my Meatless Monday Pinterest board.)

In the grocery store you may find them labeled as yams or sweet yams, but these are orange-fleshed sweet potatoes!  We cut them into pieces about 1/2 inch.

Toss the diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, dried thyme, and a little salt and pepper.

Spread sweet potatoes out in a single layer and roast in a 400F/200C oven, turning them a few times.

While sweet potatoes roast, toast the farro in a dry pan; then add hot stock and simmer covered about 35 minutes, or until Farro is tender. (I use Semi-Pearled Farro, which cooks a bit more quickly but still has some of the bran.)

Whisk together the sherry vinegar, Tahini, brown sugar or sweetener, Spike Seasoning, Sumac, and olive oil to make the dressing.

The sweet potatoes are done when they are soft and slightly browned on the outside, about 40 minutes.

Toss the hot sweet potatoes with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing.

When the Farro is soft but still slightly chewy, remove from the heat and drain it if there is any stock that was not absorbed.

Gently toss together the farro, sweet potatoes, sliced green onions, and the rest of the dressing.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan just until they are barely starting to brown; then mix them into the salad (save a few for garnish if you'd like.)  Serve salad slightly warm or let it come to room temperature.  (This was even good cold from the fridge when I ate the leftovers.)

Vegan Farro and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pine Nuts and Tahini-Sumac Vinaigrette
(Makes about 6-8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn with input from Jake.)

2 medium sized orange-flesh sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice  (About 4 cups diced sweet potatoes; these are often called yams in U.S. grocery stores.)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper, for seasoning sweet potatoes
2 cups farro (I used Semi-Pearled Farro.)
4 cups hot vegetable stock (or use 2 cans vegetable broth and a little water)
1 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Dressing Ingredients:
1 T Spanish Sherry Vinegar (or unsweetened rice vinegar)
1 T Tahini
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (probably optional, but it does add flavor)
2 tsp. brown sugar, Splenda, or Stevia
2 tsp powdered Sumac
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (use an oil with good flavor)

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  Peel sweet potatoes and cut them into half inch dice.   Toss sweet potatoes with 1 T olive oil and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a large baking sheet (that you have sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil.)  Roast sweet potatoes, turning a few times, until they are softened and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.

While sweet potatoes roast, heat the vegetable stock in microwave (or in a pot).  Heat the Farro in a dry pan, stirring, until it has a toasted smell, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the hot stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until the Farro is softened but still slightly chewy, about 35 minutes.  Pour the Farro into a colander to drain any excess stock that has not been absorbed and let it cool.  (There are several types of Farro, and the cooking time I specify is for semi-pearled Farro, which still has some of the bran.  Whole Farro will take longer to cook and pearled Farro will cook more quickly, so if you're not sure what type you have I would start checking it after about 30 minutes.

Mix together the sherry vinegar, Tahini, Spike Seasoning, sweetener of your choice, and Sumac together and then whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.  

When the sweet potatoes are done, toss them with 2 tablespoons of dressing in a bowl that's big enough to hold all the salad ingredients.  When Farro is fairly cool, gently mix together the sweet potatoes, Farro, and sliced green onions with the rest of the dressing.   Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan just until they are barely starting to brown and toss them into the salad (saving a few for garnish if desired.)  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This kept quite well in the fridge for a few days and was even good when I ate it cold.

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South Beach Suggestions:
I did use brown sugar in the dressing when I made this, but Splenda or granulated Stevia would be a better choice if you're following the South Beach Diet low-glycemic.  This salad would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the diet, but I would limit it to a small serving for phase 2. 

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Meatless Ideas with Sweet Potatoes:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad with Green Onions, Basil, Thyme, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sweet Potato Biscuits from Budget Bytes
Soy-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Sesame Seeds from Kalyn's Kitchen 
Mashed Garlic Sweet Potatoes from The Perfect Pantry 
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Sumac from Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

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  1. Love how colorful this dish is. Where did you buy your sumac? I had a hard time finding it.

  2. Barbara, I buy it often from The Spice House or Penzeys, but Black Cherry Market in Salt Lake is another place to get it. Glad you like the idea!

  3. Fantastic combination of flavors and textures! I really need to use farro more often.

  4. This is my ideal salad! I love the chew from the farro and the sweet awesomeness from my favorite veggie - the sweet potato! You've made my week with this!

  5. Lydia, I'm really loving farro lately! Maybe because I ordered a bunch from Amazon, but I'm putting it in everything.

    Joanne, so glad you like it!

  6. I've never tried farro. I'll have to check out the bulk bins at our local Whole Foods Market. I'm sure they have it there. I've found getting my family and myself to eat healthier is much easier if I serve them a variety of new foods. Keeps it exciting.

  7. Last time I checked Whole Foods in Utah didn't have it, but that was about 2 years ago. If you have an import market, they will carry it.

  8. I love the tahini sauce you mixed in with the salad - I think tahini sauce is my new favorite these days.

  9. Looks delicious, and healthy too. What's a farro by the way?


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