The Chef's Take: Ford Fry's Farro Salad
"Local farmers literally come to our door, and they show us what they're growing and teach us about all these cool new things," said Ford Fry, the James Beard Foundation Award-nominated chef and restaurateur who heads acclaimed, locally focused Atlanta destinations, including The Optimist, King + Duke , No. 246 and JCT.Kitchen & Bar. Fry is fond of frilly mustard greens and the little flowery shoots that sprout early on from collard-green plants. "We love to use those," he said.
At his latest restaurant, St. Cecilia, the menu is inspired by coastal European foods, from Italy down to France and through Spain, so that means a lot of fish, crudo and handmade pastas. For this farro salad, Fry and his executive chef Craig Richards toss the nutty, healthful European grain with seafood — either cold roasted shrimp, crab or even cuttlefish — and then add roasted beets and some local greens. The salad gets treated to a gorgeous green goddess dressing made with fresh herbs and yogurt instead of mayonnaise. "The yogurt keeps the dish a bit healthier and brighter,” said Fry. "As chefs we are always on a journey to find big flavor, and that does come with fat, but if we don't balance our menus, offering some lighter options, then you wont feel good when you leave our restaurant. And we want you to feel good. We want you to come back. I used to be Mr. Butter, but I have progressed."
Farro, Crab and Roasted Beet Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap beets individually in foil and roast until fork tender, about an hour. When cool enough to handle, peel skin off with a knife and dice into 1/2-inch pieces.
Blanch farro in salted water until al dente.
Mix farro with beets and remaining ingredients. Dress with green goddess.
Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She's probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.