Monday, we meet yet again. I am almost always in the mood for a big ass salad (BAS), but especially at the start of a new week when I just want something light and fresh tasting. And let’s be honest, the days of salads being viewed as bland, boring, “diet food” are wayyyyy behind us. Salads can now be bold, hearty, and as flavorful as our hearts desire…and that’s precisely why I crave them so much! Consequently, this is the same reason why I’m obsessed with this Farro, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, and Dried Cherry Salad.
This Farro, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, and Dried Cherry Salad, is so amazing because the flavors and textures are perfectly balanced. The greens are crisp and bright from the citrus dressing, the farro is chewy and comforting, the pumpkin seeds salty and nutty, and the dried cherries bring it all together by being soft and sweet. If you choose to toss on a handful of either regular or dairy-free feta, the cheese adds a bit of creaminess that will never let you down!
Pumpkin seeds have been my go-to fat source to add to salads lately because they’re such a good source of iron. In the fall I found out my iron stores (ferritin levels) were extremely low coming in at an 8 when they should be at least a 40. Since then, despite my aversion to the supplement, I had to start taking an iron pill. I recently had my iron levels checked again, only to learn my iron had gone down! I literally could not believe it. I mean- what happens when my ferritin drops to zero?!? I just don’t see how it’s possible for it to decrease with the addition of an iron supplement, and I was extremely irritated when my doctor’s only response to the situation was to take iron twice a day now.
My iron levels have always been on the lower side, and now that I’m vegan, I just don’t consume as much as I used to, in addition to doubling my physical activity now that I’m a fitness and yoga instructor nearly full-time. Increasing my iron levels is critical for well-being- most noticeably to ward off fatigue. I am always exhausted, which makes everyday life hard, but especially keeping up with my active lifestyle. Instead of just depending on a pill, I want to boost my iron naturally. Unfortunately, I already eat multiple servings of spinach and other greens a day, which tells me that the food I’m eating must be nutritionally devoid (see my post on Food Evolution to learn more about this). So, I’ve started looking into alternative plant-based sources of iron, starting today with pumpkin seeds that provide 15-20% of your daily needs in a 1/4 cup.
Farro, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, and Dried Cherry Salad is the perfect quick side dish, or make it a meal by topping it with your favorite protein source! I am obsessed with it’s combination of sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy! Sometimes it’s the simplest meals that really hit the spot.
Handmade Ceramic Bowl by Marsha Karagheusian.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
Farro, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, and Dried Cherry Salad
This Farro, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, and Dried Cherry Salad, is so amazing because the flavors and textures are perfectly balanced. The greens are crisp and bright from the citrus dressing, the farro is chewy and comforting, the pumpkin seeds salty and nutty, and the dried cherries bring it all together by being soft and sweet. This quick dish is the perfect side or can be made a meal all on it's ownSometimes it's the simplest fare that really hit the spot!
- 10 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup dry farro
- 3/4-1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds - I load mine up for the flavor and iron!
- 1/2 cup dried cherries - can substitute cranberries
- 1/2 cup tofu feta or regular - optional
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 T lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey or agave
- 1T lemon zest
- sea salt and black pepper - to taste
- Combine farro in a medium sauce pan with about 3 cups of water (the grain should be entirely covered with about 1 inch of water above it). Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain off any excess water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat a toaste oven to 400F. Spread pumpkin seeds out in an even layer on a baking sheet, and toast 3-6 minutes. While the seeds are cooking, whisk together all of the ingredients for the salad dressing until completely emulsified. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the greens, lightly cooled farro, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and feta (if using) then toss it all together with the dressing. Add sea salt to taste, as it will likely need some since neither the farro nor the seeds are seasoned. Enjoy!