The salad in this recipe from Real Simple is made with farro, a type of grain in the wheat family. It is also known as emmer and often confused with spelt. But, by any name, it is a great summer salad ingredient because of its nutty taste and chewy texture. In this recipe, chicken thighs are seasoned with lemon zest, salt and pepper, then are quickly seared and placed in the oven to finish cooking. You could also grill them. Meanwhile, you can cook the farro and prepare the other salad ingredients, which include asparagus, radishes, Feta cheese and mint. This salad would be great for a picnic or potluck, because the farro doesn’t get soggy.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Be sure to use fresh lemon juice and look for a brand of Feta cheese with no artificial ingredients.

Sprinkle chicken thighs with lemon zest, salt and pepper

The farro takes about 30 minutes to cook

Saute the asparagus in the same skillet you used to sear the chicken

Radishes add colour and crunch to the farro salad

Lemon-pepper chicken thighs with farro salad

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) whole-grain farro

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound or 454 g), trimmed and cut into 1½ -inch pieces (3.8 cm)

4 radishes, cut into wedges

3 ounces (85 g) Feta, crumbled

¼ cup (60 ml) torn mint leaves

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the farro in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) each salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in batches, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; reserve the skillet. Roast the chicken until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 165° F, (75° C) 18 to 22 minutes.

Add the asparagus to the drippings in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the farro, along with the radishes, Feta, lemon juice, mint leaves, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) each salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve the chicken with the farro salad. Serves 4.

From the May 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine