This salad is simply chock-full of all kinds of good stuff--sweet, tender beets; the crisp snap of zucchini; fennel's anise crunch; and chewy-tender farro. You can make it up to two days ahead; just leave out the watercress until shortly before serving.
1 pound golden beets, scrubbed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup uncooked farro
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped dried figs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups very thinly sliced fennel bulb
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed zucchini
3 ounces watercress
1/2 cup chopped unsalted roasted almonds
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°.
Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets. Rub beets with 1 tablespoon oil; wrap beets tightly in foil. Roast beets at 400° for 1 1/2 hours or until very tender. Cool for 15 minutes. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Discard roots and skins. Cut beets into wedges.
Cook farro according to package directions; drain. Rinse farro under cold water; drain well. Spread farro out on paper towels to dry out slightly.
Place vinegar and figs in a small saucepan. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat; cool completely. Place vinegar mixture, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; gradually add remaining 5 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add beet wedges, farro, fennel, zucchini, and watercress to bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle salad with almonds.
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I made this last night and it was a hit, and very filling as a light, healthy dinner. I did use some substitutions based upon what was in my fridge and pantry (arugula instead of watercress, apple cider vinegar instead of red vinegar) and I added a small amount of feta and reduced the fennel, but I think it retained the spirit of the original recipe. I would recommend this to anyone and agree with the other reviewer who felt this would be a nice salad to make for company. It looked very appealing and tasted just as good. Would certainly make again--I'm not a huge salad fan and this was one that didn't feel like punishment.
It does take time to prepare this dish, with the need to roast the beets, cook the farro, simmer the figs in vinegar, and chop up the rest of the ingredients... but it was delicious and I would make it again. I would maybe halve the fennel next time, as I am not a huge fan of it, but it did add a nice flavor to the mix. I also could not find watercress at my store so I used brussel sprouts (raw) and a little baby spinach to replace the green. Overall I would make it again, for company, it was an impressive salad.
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