Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Almost exactly one year ago, my back was so bad that I took three months off work. I considered back surgery, and really struggled with what it meant to be unable to do the work I’d done my entire adult life. While I was off work, I also had a cooking accident, which almost cost me a fingertip. It was a rough patch to say the least.

A few weeks ago, while getting ready to have my friends Lani and Tom for dinner, something snapped in my back. I acted fast this time, going on steroids, getting an epidural shot right away and doing pilates at home as well as my physical therapy exercises that I’ve become all-too familiar with.Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Then came another cooking accident- this time a burn from hot butter and spices, stretching from my neck to my solar plexus. It looks like a map of Hawaii, and it hurts like mad.

Worse than the pain, is the fear. I’ve been here before, and I am not the kind of person who likes to be in stasis. Recently, I’ve let this fear completely paralyze me. There have been no posts here, no meals photographed, no recipes written.  I’ve been stuck, and unable to push myself from the ledge.

Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

I keep thinking of my friend Michael Procopio. We dined together a few months ago when he was suffering from a bout of writers block coupled with a case of serious perfectionism.  I went back to reread the piece he was working on at the time of our dinner. One line jumped out at me:

 “All the bad things are the product of my own, fertile imagination.”

 Leave it to Mr. Procopio to drop some pearls of wisdom.

Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

It turns out, another of my friends and fellow bloggers has been struggling. Like me, he’s been cooking (or rather baking) and doing some upgrades to his site, but hasn’t been posting. The longer he waited the harder it became to post. Kamran of The Sophisticated Gourmet, is a fantastic writer and photographer, the pressure became overwhelming.  He finally posted late last week with some delectable (and simple) cupcakes and some very big news. Congratulations on the fantastic post Kamran, and on the book! I’m so glad you’re back.

The thing is. I know better than to get wrapped up in my own head about things I can’t control like my back, and  burning myself, and the idea of being perfect, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to just get unstuck. The tremendous thing about blogs/Twitter/social media is that we support one another sometimes without even realizing we’re doing it.

Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

So I’d like to thank my friends Michael and Kamran- one just a few miles away, one all the way across the country, you both helped me, immensly.

I can’t let fear and judgement get in the way of what I really love like cooking, and writing, and photography. Like seeing friends and family and experiencing joy fully every day. Yeah, I’m going to put those in the important pile. Those and farro salad.

Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 blood oranges
  • 2 mandarin oranges
  • 4 kumquats
  • a couple of handfuls of spicy greens like wild arugula, mizune, or peppercress
  • 4 oz chevre
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • *pistachio oil (optional)


  • ½ cup champagne vinegar (I use sparrow lane)
  • ½ cup grape seed oil
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds or teaspoon whole vanilla powder
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook farro in 4 cups of cold salted waterm bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes, drain if any water remains
  • Peel mandarins and blood oranges using a knife removing as much a white pith as possible (as shown) slice, and remove pithy center.
  • Slice kumquats


  • Make dressing, whisk champagne vinegar, grapeseed oil, and vanilla bean until combined. Add shallot and salt and pepper.
  • Toss with warm farro and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, toss farro with blood oranges, mandarins, kumquats, ¾ of the chopped pistachios and greens, season with salt and pepper, and finally top with crumbled chevre and toss very lightly. Top each serving with a bit of pistachio and a drizzle of pistachio oil


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Procopio March 5, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I never realized anyone paid the slightest attention to what I say. I am glad, however, that it helped you, because you rock.

And now I know what to do with that bag of farro that's been sitting on top of my fridge for the past two months.


The Tomato Tart March 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Thank you Michael, for your thoughtful and entertaining blog, but mostly for your friendship. You, are pretty Rock and Roll, yourself.
Enjoy the farro, love.


Winnie March 5, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Beautiful salad, Sabrina. I'm struggling lately with feeling as if I in a writing and photo rut…it was nice to read I am not the only one. Ps I hope all your ouchies heal up quickly xoxo


The Tomato Tart March 5, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Hi Winnie, every time I sat down to write something about a recipe, it felt completely disingenuous, so finally, I spilled the beans. I don't know how most people feel about reading this post, but in the end, I know that a few people that I like and respect enjoyed it, and it helped me get out of my funk. Perhaps, it's helped someone else do the same.
RE your PS, thanks so much, I'm feeling better already.


Garrett March 5, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Lovely post and lovely salad. I feel ya on getting wrapped up in your own doubts. Good for you on breaking through it. =)


The Tomato Tart March 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Thanks Garrett, for your words of support. I'm happy to be moving through to the other side.


kane Hipolito March 7, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Wow that salad is nice for side dish, thanks for the ingredients and instruction your share in here, I will try this at home..


dishbytrish March 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Sounds amazing. Love how you used vanilla in the dressing… never thought about that. Lovely photos. Cheers!


The Tomato Tart March 9, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Hi Trish,
Thanks so much. I love vanilla bean dressing. When tomatoes come into season, try it on a tomato & crisp cold watermelon salad. It will blow your mind.
I hope you\’re well.


Rosemarried March 10, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Strange! I know (or think I know) I posted a comment on this post already, mostly because I just wanted to say I'm sorry that things have been rough! I feel for you, and on some level understand the struggles. Thanks for the great writing, perspective, attitude…and recipe. And sorry my earlier comment didn't go thru!


susie March 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Amazing pics! The recipe looks great. I've been wanting to start cooking with farro. I bought wheat berries and may try it with this recipe. Hope you're all better!


The Cozy Herbivore March 13, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Ugh, I'm so sorry to hear about your back troubles and your kitchen accidents. They sound like absolutely positively no fun at all. And I can totally relate about that paralyzing fear that keeps you from moving forward… it's like a big heavy wet blanket draped across your shoulders, smothering your ambitions and creativity. It's a hard beast to shake, but I am so glad that you have a support system to turn to.

This is such an interesting age we live and write in, isn't it? Imagine what life would be like without our Internet friends. I feel like my beast would be with me much more often without my world of virtual love & support.

Anyway, this salad looks absolutely gorgeous, I love the inclusion of vanilla in the dressing. Seems like it would pair so nicely with the blood oranges.

I'm thinking about you and sending good vibes from Philly. Keep up the great work– the community just wouldn't be the same without you!


Kamran Siddiqi March 13, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Oh, lovely, Sabrina! I, like Michael, never thought people really read what I write, but your sweet words really made my night; thank you!

It's 12:10AM here and I'm sending you many warm hugs! I am so glad that I wasn't the only one in a rut, but gosh, you came back with a bang my friend! Everything about this post is utterly gorgeous. I especially love that this salad is so unique–it's something I'm definitely having this week! I love the scattering of verde pistachios, the slices of venetian red oranges, and that beautiful vanilla bean vinaigrette that sings a sweet & savory song. It's utterly perfect.

I simply cannot wait to try this, and when I do, I'm reporting back here to tell everyone how you're a genius! :)


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: