Healthy Whole Grain Salad with Citrus

Gluten Free Whole Grain Salad with Citrus from

Gluten Free Whole Grain Salad with Citrus from

This healthy whole grain salad is gluten free and vegetarian. Made from gluten free oat groats and a mix of beautiful citrus, like blood orange, mandarin, and kumquat, it is finished with a really special vanilla bean vinaigrette, pistachios, and goat cheese. This is a hearty salad with tons of flavor. Perfect for a lovely lunch or dinner.

Healthy Whole Grain Salad with Citrus

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 whole grain salads.

Three Citrus Farro Salad with Goat Cheese and Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups gluten free oat groats
  • 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)
  • Cook oats in 5 cups of cold salted water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 50-60 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
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 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
  • Make dressing, whisk champagne vinegar, grapeseed oil, and vanilla bean until combined. Add shallot and salt and pepper.
  • Toss with warm oat groats and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, add blood oranges, mandarins, kumquats, ¾ of the chopped pistachios and greens, season with salt and pepper, and finally top with crumbled chèvre and toss very lightly. Top each serving with a bit of pistachio and a drizzle of pistachio oil



  1. says

    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.

  2. says

    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

    • says

      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.

  3. dishbytrish says

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

    • says

      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.

  4. says

    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!

  5. says

    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!

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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! :)


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