Farro, Chicken, and Avocado Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This recipe uses the Italian grain farro, known in the United States as spelt, which has been popular in Tuscany for centuries and today can be found in many American supermarkets and almost any health food store. Its nutty flavor lends itself to hot and cold applications--you're as apt to find it cooked, cooled, and tossed into a salad as you are to encounter it in farrotto, an alternative to risotto. Don't opt for a smaller grain here: farro's size is crucial to its remaining pleasingly toothsome after it's dressed with the vinaigrette.




Total Timeunder 1 hour

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturechewy, nutty, savory, tangy

Type of Dishmain course salad, salad


  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced, seeded jalapeno pepper (about 1 pepper)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup farro
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock, cold
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into small dice
  • 2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, plus 8 sprigs


  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lime juice, jalapeno, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set it aside.

  2. Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil in a pot set over high heat. Add the farro and cook until it is tender but still toothsome, about 30 minutes. Strain the farro, transfer it to a bowl, toss it with the oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Put the chicken and stock in a pot, season with salt and pepper, and slowly bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer until the chicken is just cooked, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock for another use, and set the chicken aside.

  4. Thickly slice the chicken crosswise; add the avocado, bell pepper, lettuce, onion, and cilantro leaves to the bowl with the farro. Add the chicken and the vinaigrette. Toss, and transfer the salad to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the cilantro sprigs and serve.

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Farro, also known as emmer wheat, and spelt are NOT the same grains. Both are pre-hybridized wheats, but are botanically distinctive. But don't take it from me--check Harold McGee and the New York Times--


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