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green olive + farro salad (for relish tray over-purchasers.)

April 14, 2017

olive farro salad. | a periodic table

Some years I really have it all together. Ducks in a row, plans made, menu set and waiting to be executed. Easter is, after all, my first big food gathering since the flurry of Christmas and New Years, so normally I’m primed and ready for action.

Not this year, friends! I’m ready, but not in a meticulously planned sort of way. Easter is cool like that: there’s really no Family Standard Dishes I’m required to make, beyond ordering a ham. That is annoying, now that you mention it, because it’s 2017 and I’m 6 years deep into blogging and by the way made this lovely crown of lamb with wild rice stuffing for a smashing Feast Magazine brunch menu a year or so ago and STILL the vote is for ham.

olive farro salad. | a periodic table

So there will be ham. Beyond that, my Easter is still up in the air, except for one thing.

The Relish Tray.

*wait, two things: I’m 99% sure I’m making that tsoureki (greek braided easter bread) I made a few years ago. That’s always a hit. Anyway.

Friends, I can’t put into words how obsessed I am with relish trays. Not one gathering goes by here which doesn’t include a relish tray, and I’m not talking just maybe some olives and a pickle. I’m talking big: dills and sweets, manzanillas and kalamatas, baby corn, pickled carrot ribbons, pudgy caper berries, fresh radishes, and bright little peppers. It’s so beautiful – such a bouquet of color and sass – that you’d think people would be clamoring to get at it.

Except they’re not: mostly it’s just me, sitting here in some sort of euphoric relish tray fantasy where everyone loves what I love. Needless to say, I have leftovers every single time.

Usually these leftovers are resigned to a back corner in the fridge, because pickled things are forever. They sit there and wait patiently for the next party or holiday, knowing they won’t see the light of day until then. It’s enough to make you cry, but since I’m the only one who really loves relishes with proper gusto around here, it’s just the way it goes.

olive farro salad. | a periodic table

Until I happened upon this salad right here: this thing of beauty uses up not only some relish tray faves, but also those leftover prep ingredients from your Easter (or insert holiday gathering here) meal. Lemons, scallions, chives (and you know if you even look at chives the wrong way they’re like *wilt, dead now*), even things from your abandoned charcuterie tray like pecans (or walnuts) and parmesan.

Because relish trays really are magical, this salad somehow satisfies like pizza: something about the chewy farro against briny olives, salty parm, rich olive oil and  tart lemon really makes me deeply happy. Even the raisins – yep, raisins – in this add this sweet, chewy loveliness to the salad that you don’t often find.

It’s fully customizable, too: I took several liberties with the original Food52 recipe to fit what I had. I’m not a huge fan of castelvetranos, so I typically have the fat Spanish manzanillas, which are wonderful here. Chives exist only to annoy me with their dramatic two-minute freshness and subsequent death, so I left those out in favor of the more durable scallion greens. Pecans are in here because they live in my kitchen, but I imagine the original walnuts are perfect as well: even toasted almonds would work well here. You’ll love this.

olive farro salad. | a periodic table

So if, post-Easter, you’re wondering what to do with those leftovers, look no further: this salad is here for you, as it is for me every single time I over-purchase (or my family under-appreciates) those beautiful holiday relishes.

I still have to order that stupid ham, so I’ll leave you to it.** Carry on! Oh, and that Easter bread we talked about? Make that a thing this year: I think it’ll be heading to my table as well.

**no I don’t! I actually just ordered it this morning – we’re trying something new this year and getting a bacon-wrapped smoked ham from Dalie’s Smokehouse here in STL. I have high hopes, because from what I understand, their meats are legit. 

Recipe time! Adapted from this recipe from Heidi Swanson over at Food52.

Green Olive + Farro Salad 

Serves | 4 to 6 |

  • 1 1/4 cups whole or semi-pearled farro
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock (hey: I always have leftovers of this too, so why not)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound large Manzanilla olives, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecan halves
  • 8 to 10 scallions, whites and light greens, trimmed and chopped into thin rings
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 jalapeño or fresno chile, minced, seeds discarded
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • pecorino or Parmesan cheese, in wide strips, for serving

| Prep | In a saucepan, combine the farro, water or chicken stock, and salt. Set over medium-high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat from a boil to a simmer, and simmer gently (still covered) for about 15 minutes if semi-pearled, longer if whole – cook until tender but not mushy. Strain, rinse with cold water to cool it down, and set aside.

In a large bowl add olives, olive oil, pecans, green onions, chives, red pepper flakes, jalapeño, honey, lemon juice, raisins, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to serve.

| Serve | Combine the farro and olive mixture in a bowl and mix to combine. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Top with strips of cheese and serve.

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4 Comments

  • Reply movita beaucoup April 15, 2017 at 5:46 am

    I hosted Easter dinner yesterday.

    Now I’m sad that I didn’t have a relish tray.

  • Reply John/Kitchen Riffs April 15, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Bacon wrapped ham? Fun! As is this relish tray. You really don’t see relish trays that much, alas. We need to bring them back! Of course, you already have. 🙂

  • Reply Faygie April 16, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Every single person in my house loves olives, baby corn, and just about any kind of pickled vegetable, so I can’t imagine a relish tray ever ending up uneaten (well, except for maybe the radishes).

    This salad looks great! I love the combination of Manzanilla olives & golden raisins.

  • Reply Ashley April 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Once again, you KNOW ME. This recipe (or a very, very similar one) is in Heidi Swanson’s Near and Far cookbook. I totally marked it to make and it has been (much like the remnants of your glorious relish tray) languishing in a pile of “recipe I want to cook, but currently have no time, so…wait here”. Seriously, it is. Because I love Castelvantro olives (sorry) and I love farro and I love non-green-based salads for lunch (because it’s one of the only times I can have a vegetarian, vegetable-ridden meal without guilt for not making an Eric approved dish).

    Also, the relish tray truly sounds glorious and I’d be all over that with you! As well as the tsoureki, which is quite delicious.

    Our Easter traditional foods are: lamb (my aunt despises ham “roasts”), a magnificent layered jello (alternating layers of jello and jello + yogurt), my grandma’s jello (lime jello + pineapple + mini marshmallows + cream cheese and whipped cream topping — weird but so delicious), and carrot cake (I heart Bobby Flay’s recipe with Alice Medrich’s cream cheese frosting). I had a few years in a row making Nigella’s lemon meringue cake — easy and SO GOOD. And now I think I’m on the pavlova train (with roasted rhubarb, yum) for Easter.

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