This Triple Pea Salad with Fried Farro is a Crispy Lover’s Dream

II’m an equal opportunity vegetable lover, but most people I know struggle to appreciate at least one, if not more. For my husband, it’s okra. For one of my colleagues, cauliflower. Another coworker can’t stand zucchini. I’ve met beet haters and mushroom haters – and I’ve offered my advice to both.

Eitan Bernath understands. The TikTok star, cookbook author and now culinary director at The Drew Barrymore Show remember growing up as a picky eater. “I just ate bread,” he tells me over a Zoom call from New York City. “I mean, let’s be clear, I still love bread, but now I eat so much more than bread.”

Vegetables are the ultimate food category, Bernath, 20, has learned to embrace. Honestly, he’s still learning.

What helped you make the leap? Cooking. He became obsessed with this as a child, studying videos to help him understand India’s regional cuisine, collecting equipment and spices the same way other kids collected Nintendo DS game cartridges. Very quickly, as he says, “I started to run out of things to cook that I like to eat. There are so many things you can do with carbs.”

Then potatoes – that irresistible starter vegetable – led to cauliflower, which led to Brussels sprouts, and so on. Today, Bernath has strong opinions on the best ways to cook vegetables – after all, that’s part of the key to enjoying them – but also on another proven strategy for expanding the palate. “My number one advice for people starting out in the kitchen is to start cooking foods that you know you already enjoy eating,” he says. “And honestly, the same advice applies to vegetables.”

Take broccoli, something Bernath has recently adopted. When he ate with some of his favorite flavors — chili oil, mushroom soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar — “it was pretty easy to like.”

The same strategy applies to the recipe I’m sharing here from your first book, Eitan eats the world. It’s a triple pea salad, full of crunchy textures from the juicy raw snow and peas, a little starch from (under)cooked English peas, richness and parmesan fat to cut a tangy sauce, and the final touch: fried farro. “Anyone who follows me on Snapchat knows I love, love frying food. So that’s what I thought the salad needed.”

It’s a brilliant technique, really: you cook the farro until it’s tender, it’s nice and dry, then you fry it for several minutes in hot oil. Its inclusion makes the salad the crunchiest in memory. I didn’t need the farro to turn me into the wonders of this trio of peas, but it did help transform the salad from something that might seem quite simple into something I couldn’t stop eating.

Every vegetable deserves such a wish, don’t you think?

Triple Pea Salad with Crispy Farro

(Tom McCorkle/The Washington Post)

it suits: 4-6 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

This might be the crunchiest salad you’ve ever had. It’s a veritable riot of textures from three types of peas (english, snap and snow) plus fried farro, in a simple, sour, herbaceous sauce. The shaved Parmesan cheese provides another counterpoint, but this salad is also great with a creamier cheese like burrata or feta, or with a savory ricotta salata. You can also substitute a vegan cheese of your choice; consider spoonfuls of creamy vegan ricotta or feta cheese.

do it ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before combining it with the other ingredients before serving.

storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 5 days. The farro softens as it soaks up the dressing, so if you want to keep it crispy and you know you’ll have leftovers, store it separately from the rest of the salad.

Where to buy: Farro can be found in many well-stocked supermarkets, Italian markets or online.

Ingredients:

80g of raw farro (you can substitute barley or brown rice)

80ml extra virgin olive oil

60ml of sherry vinegar

A handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic, finely grated or pressed

½ teaspoon fine salt and more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

225g fresh or frozen peas

225g of peas

225g of sweetened peas

240ml neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola, for frying

60g grated Parmesan cheese (can replace burrata, milk or vegan feta cheese, ricotta or ricotta salata)

Method:

Place 3 clean dish towels on your counter.

Cook the farro according to the package instructions, drain well and spread on one of the tea towels. Fold the towel and dry the farro, then unfold and let the farro air dry while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.

Add the English peas to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Transfer the peas to the second clean dish towel on the counter, fold the towel and roll them up gently until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Unfold the towel and let the peas air dry while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Trim and shred the peas and, if necessary, the peas (some pea varieties don’t have strings, so you can skip this step if you have them). Use your fingers to loosen the end of the pea stem towards the top seam, leaving the stringy part attached. Pull the disconnected rod end to remove the string. Cut the snow peas and sugar peas on the bias into 1 ½ cm pieces.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it registers 200°C on an instant-read thermometer, or until it glows but does not start to smoke. Add the air-dried farro and stir gently to ensure it doesn’t stick. Fry until farro is golden and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to pick up the farro in batches, holding it over the pan to let as much oil drip off as possible, then transfer it to the third clean dish towel on the counter to cool.

Transfer the farro to the serving bowl with the vinaigrette, along with the English peas, peas and peas. Shoot to match. Top with grated cheese and serve.

Nutritional information per serving, based on 6 | Calories: 303; total fat: 18g; saturated fat: 4g; cholesterol: 6mg; sodium: 357mg; carbohydrates: 26g; dietary fiber: 6g; sugar: 6g; protein: 11g.

This analysis is an estimate based on the ingredients available and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

© The Washington Post

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