Late Thursday afternoon, with guests coming over and chunks of Prather Ranch lamb marinating in the refrigerator (which eventually became succulent grilled lamb kebabs) I zipped over to the SF Ferry Building to grab a couple of bottles of wine and to find some inspiration for side dishes. I had forgotten about the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market, already bustling inside the building. Lucky me!

After securing our drinks, I decided to head over to Boulette’s Larder, my new favorite shop for hard-to-find spices and prepared ingredients. I had visited them the previous day when searching for sumac, an ingredient in my Middle Eastern lamb marinade (a lemon-herb-onion mixture that they had been been nestled in overnight). When I noticed that they had ready-to-eat steamed farro (a nutty, chewy grain) and beautifully roasted chioggia beets I knew what I would make. Drawing on the gorgeous farro salad served at Pizzaiolo (and previously reminisced about), I headed over to an organic produce stand and found tender baby arugula, crunchy radishes, and a fresh juicy cucumber.

The summer menu, perfect for the warm East Bay evening, turned out to be a raving success: lamb kebabs, creamy Greek yogurt, grilled pita breads, and my new favorite summer salad. The mixture of nutty farro, sweet roasted beets, peppery arugula, crunchy radishes, juicy cucumber, a sprinkle of mint, and lemon was perfection. Creamy crumbled feta would be an excellent addition.

Farro Salad

Juice of 1 lemon
About 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil (I use Stonehouse)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups steamed farro
About 8 very small (baby) beets, preferably chioggia or yellow, roasted and peeled, halved and sliced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into chunks
4-5 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, cut into thin ribbons
About 2 cups baby arugula

In a large nonreactive bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Toss the farro and sliced beets in the lemon mixture. This can sit for up to an hour until you are ready to serve. Just before serving, add the cucumber, radishes, mint, and arugula, and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Forever Farro 1 July,2005Kim Laidlaw

  • Anonymous

    I hate to reveal a culinary secret, but Higher Grounds in Glen Park (run by Manhal and Mike) has an amazing “chicken delight” crepe that uses sumac. It is outstanding and the reason that we eat it every weekend for breakfast!


Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.

Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.

She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in Petaluma with her husband and their child, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at

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