I was raised on tuna salad made with mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice. It was one of my mom’s go-to dishes, often served as a last-minute meal staple.
Using the classic Portuguese combo of tuna and chickpeas as a starting point, this version is a complete turnaround from that tradition. Farro, a whole grain similar to wheat berries, brings pleasantly nutty flavor, fiber and plenty of nutrients. It’s one of the most accessible of the ancient grains, especially in pearled form. The result is fresh and light, and it doesn’t need an accompaniment of bread or crackers.
Here, oil-packed light tuna lends more flavor than tuna packed in water, but you can use either. Pearled farro, which cooks in 15 to 20 minutes, is a wonderful time-saving alternative to whole farro, which requires a long soaking and/or cooking time. Pearled farro is available at many natural foods stores. Semi-pearled farro can be substituted; it will take longer to cook.
Lemon-Dressed Farro, Tuna and Chickpea Salad
Makes 6 generous cups (6 to 8 servings)
This salad is best when made at least 2 hours before serving, so its flavors can meld.
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pearled or semi-pearled farro, cooked according to the package directions, then cooled (about 3 cups cooked)
1 3/4 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added chickpeas (if using canned, drain and rinse)
6 1/2 to 7 ounces canned, oil-packed light tuna packed, flaked (may substitute water-packed light tuna)
4 ounces sweet onion, such as Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla, cut into 1/4 -inch dice (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped, loosely packed parsley
Whisk together the lemon zest and juice and the oil in a small bowl to form an emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine the cooled farro, chickpeas, tuna, onion, parsley and the lemon dressing in a large bowl. Toss. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. For the best flavor, refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Per serving (based on 8): 260 calories, 13 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar