Pickled rhubarb and farro salad makes the most of an early spring craving in this new column from contributing editor Krissy O’Shea.
By Krissy O'Shea
Feb 22 2018
Pickled Rhubarb and Farro SaladPhoto Credit : Krissy O'Shea
In this new column, contributing editor Krissy O’Shea writes from her family farm in central Massachusetts, where four generations have cultivated and cooked with the seasons.
Most of the snow has retreated from the fields around our property, affectionately named Cottage Farm by my great-grandparents. It is early spring, and the earth is wet and smells heavily of the new season. A few wisps of snow remain in the dark hollows down by the pond, but the color green is returning and the world seems bright with birdsong.
The hens are laying again after their winter strike. Making my way to the henhouse for a few brown-shelled eggs, I’m grateful to be back here. Many New Englanders have a story of leaving home for a time, only to realize there’s no other place they’d want to live. For me, it was studying photography in San Francisco, then working as a food stylist and events designer in London, until I could no longer ignore the longing for home. Though I now split my time between the farm and the city, finding inspiration in both, I’m happiest among the stone walls and green fields, in the garden and the kitchen.
From the kitchen window, through the old apple trees flanking the garden entrance, I see the beds that I’ll soon fill with beans, tomatoes, peas, and squash. To the right is the little white henhouse, a patch of broad-leafed rhubarb, and a few early clumps of chive and thyme. To the right again is the barn, with its high peaked cupola and black shutters, that has been standing with the house for more than two centuries. Goats (more pets than livestock) roam the fields, cut off from the forest by a thin silvery fence.
In the gardens, rhubarb is always the first up and a sure sign of spring. I relish its vibrant pink stalks and bracing tartness. This particular recipe is a favorite in our spring kitchen. The sweet-tangy pickled rhubarb and rich buttermilk dressing are the flavors I crave after a long winter of root vegetables. I add farro, a chewy, nutty grain that’s now found in most supermarkets, but you could use a rye or wheat berry instead, or quinoa. The salad is hearty enough for the still-cold spring days, but it hints at the brightness of the growing season ahead.