The Tomato Salad to Make Right Now Before Summer’s Officially Over

We planted little tomato plants in a small patch by the side of our house three months ago, and now we reap the rewards. For the next few weeks, I’ll line tomatoes up on my kitchen counter like I do confections at the holidays. Bowls of little Sweet 100s and Sun Golds from our daily harvests, big heirlooms from the farmers market, and all colors, shapes, and sizes from when my mom visits with a flat from her patch at the farm.

Most summers, I struggle for ways to use up my glut of tomatoes. Not this year. Come for dinner, and you’ll likely see me pulling a sheet pan of farro out from under the broiler, scattering the grains over a big platter of sliced red and yellow and green slices. I’d happily eat this Crispy Farro and Tomato Salad every single day for the rest of tomato season.

Every. Single. Day.
Photo by Julia Gartland

The idea of broiling farro might seem a little crazy. But take a bite of the crispy, crackly grains with late summer’s sweet, juicy tomatoes, and the whole thing will make so much sense.

I discovered this grain broiling technique while working on Mighty Salads. I wanted to get ultra-crispy quinoa without the need to stir fry, pan fry, or deep fry. (I’ve tried all three methods and invariably end up with splattered oil and greasy grains). On a whim, I tossed cooked quinoa in olive oil, spread it out on a sheet pan, and broiled it. After about five minutes and a couple of good stirs, it emerged golden, toasty, and addictively crispy-chewy in texture—not unlike the bottom layer of tahdig or paella. I loved that crispy quinoa so much, I’ve never crisped quinoa or grains any other way.

But it wasn’t until earlier this summer, when we harvested our first perfectly ripe, sun-drenched cherry tomatoes, that I thought to toss crispy farro with parsley, parmesan, and lemon zest together, and then garnish a big platter of sliced tomatoes with it. My summer grain salad routine is forever changed. This one has everything I want: bright flavors, contrasting textures, and beautiful tomatoes starring center-stage, just as they should be.

It’s so flexible, too. Any type of tomato works: cherry or full-sized, hybrid or heirloom. I love it most with a mix of tomatoes in different shapes, colors, and sizes. And while I’m pretty smitten with farro, use any type of grain—freekeh, spelt, wheat berries, barley. Change up the herbs and cheese, or add other raw or grilled summer produce to the mix. The possibilities are endless. And delicious.

Serves 2 (is easily scalable!)

  • 1

    cup cooked farro (leftover or freshly prepared and fully cooled; see headnote)

  • sea salt, to taste

  • 2

    tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1

    tablespoon finely chopped parsley (dried well if damp)

  • 2

    tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for finishing

  • 1

    teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or to taste

  • 2

    large tomatoes (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds), cored and thinly sliced–or use a mix of different colors, shapes, and sizes!

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How are you celebrating tomatoes? Share the best below.

Tomato, Labor Day, Weeknight Cooking

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