Farro salads have a lot going on in the texture department. Unlike their softer sisters — quinoa, couscous and rice — farro has a hearty, starchy chewiness that’s satisfying even before you start tossing in piles of diced vegetables, dried fruit and toasted nuts.
But just because farro salad doesn’t need textural help doesn’t mean it won’t like it. And it turns out, when you introduce crispy roasted chickpeas to nubby farro, they get along brilliantly, amiably competing — crunch versus chew — and doing so in the tastiest way.
Whenever I make crispy chickpeas, I tend to prefer the ease of roasting to the oily splatter of deep-frying, even in summer. However, if I am going to turn the oven on in August, it has to do double duty. So while the spiced chickpeas are sizzling away on one oven rack, I stick a pan of corn kernels on another rack, roasting them until they turn lightly golden, their juices condensing and getting even sweeter in the blasting heat.
Since it’s corn season, you might as well try to use fresh corn kernels sliced off the cob, which have the best flavor. But if you can’t get fresh corn, frozen kernels work nearly as well. This means you can also make this recipe in autumn or winter, when turning on the oven is a delight and not a trial. Just avoid canned corn, which is too mushy here.
If you’re looking to work ahead a little, cook the farro earlier in the day or even a day or two before. Mix it with olive oil and cider vinegar, and season it with salt and coriander right after draining, while it’s still very warm. That way, it can fully absorb all of the dressing’s tangy flavors. (No need to refrigerate if you’re serving it the same day, but if you’re working a day or two in advance, refrigerate it and let it come to room temperature.) Taste it right before serving, adding salt and vinegar as needed. Grain salads have a way of getting slightly dull and muted as they sit.
You can mix the vegetables — the roasted corn, slivered fennel and scallions — into the farro ahead of time, too.
Wait to add the crispy chickpeas until just before serving. Otherwise, they could yield some of their crunch, giving farro the edge in the competition. But then again, in this kind of salad bowl, there are no losers.