farro salad with tomatoes and brown butter corn

I don’t think I could ever tire of tomato season.  Or corn.  Seriously.  Corn has always been one of my favorites, but growing up, me no likey tomatoes.  And I tried, I tried just about every kind in every manner – I didn’t like not liking things.  But nothing worked – I think it’s a texture thing.  And a kid thing. Tomatoes were the one thing on most kids’ lists of things they did not like to eat.  Except Jennifer, who would bring tomatoes to school with a little ziploc of salt and pepper and eat it like and apple dipped in caramel.  I still can’t do that one – bite in directly – whew, the mess alone…

Corn and Tomatoes

But thankfully I outgrew my childlike aversion to tomatoes and as soon as they come in season, I devour them as often as possible. And why not?  For the other nine/ten months of the year, all I get are the canned version with a few cherry ones thrown in for good measure.

And the combination of tomatoes and corn is so obvious and that it borders on cliché, but it is just too wonderful to change. I decided to spruce up my standard version with some farro – as I love to have grain salads on hand for lunch, dinner, snacks, you name it.

Summer tomatoes for Farro Salad

Aside from the vegetable pairing, I decided to switch the rest of it up a bit.

While basil would have been an apparent (and lovely) choice, I opted for a bit of mint and dill.  Both are bright and balanced nicely with everything else in the bunch.


But the real departure from {my} the norm was in the dressing.  Generally, when I make any salad, but grain in particular, it is dressed simply with oil and vinegar or lemon juice.  Occasionally a pesto, but more often than not, just a good dousing of olive oil and an acid. But when I thought about how wonderful fresh summer corn is cooked in a bit of butter, I knew that was what we needed.  And letting it get brown and nutty before adding the corn, my goodness! By the time it all gets to the salad, even my beloved tomatoes take on a new dimension.


And while this is great to have on hand for your own summer lunches, it is dressed up just enough from the usual to make it a perfect companion at picnics, barbecues and potlucks.

Which, aside from tomatoes, are really the best part of summer.

farro salad with tomatoes and brown butter corn


Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Brown-butter Corn

NOTE:  It may seem like a lot of butter at first (or it seemed like a pretty substantial pat to me), but this will both cook the corn and dress and flavor the salad.  And as this easily serves 4 as a side or lunch, its really not too much.

1 cup farro
2 cups water
1½-2 T. butter (if you use unsalted, you will need to add salt to the corn; if salted, taste before seasoning)
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (feel free to estimate here – I used about ½ of a green pint box that I had – I know that a pint = 2 cups and so this doesn’t make sense, but i just measured the other half of the basket at 2 cups are left – pre-halving.  You can also use chopped tomatoes)
1 T. chopped dill
1 T. chopped mint
juice of 1 lemon
handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot, combine water, farro and 1 teaspoon kosher (or sea) salt; bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer until the farro is cooked through, about 40 minutes.  While the farro is cooking, stir occasionally and taste –  the farro will be soft, but should still retain a firm bite.  Drain any excess water and set aside. Note – If you can only find semi-pearled farro, it will cook in about half the time.

While the farro is cooking, remove the kernels from the ears of corn, halve (or chop tomatoes) and chop the herbs; set aside.

When the farro has about 10 minutes left, in a saute pan, melt butter over medium heat until frothy and begins to get golden brown.  Let it continue cooking for another minute or so until it turns a deeper brown (but still more gold – not burnt) and has a nutty aroma.  Add the corn kernels and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the corn is no longer raw but still tastes firm and fresh.  Season to taste with salt if needed (see butter ingredient note).

In a large bowl, combined drained farro and brown butter corn.  Toss together while they are both still warm, as it will better take on the flavor of the browned butter.  Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Continue tossing to let cool a bit.  Add tomatoes, herbs and spinach; toss to combine.  Taste again for flavor – if it needs more acid, add another squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of red wine vinegar and any additional salt or pepper that is needed.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy within a few days.