This pasta salad is by far the most delicious pasta salad I have ever made! From the NY Times. I love all of the different flavors and textures-especially the apricots and sliced almonds. It makes enough for a crowd or to share with neighbors.
1 cup farro
2 bay leaves
1 pound orzo
¾ cup diced dried apricots
¾ cup thinly sliced red onion
¾ cup thinly sliced celery
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup sliced almonds
2 cups baby spinach leaves (2 ounces)
1 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
½ cup torn mint leaves
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE DRESSING:
2 large lemons
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add farro and bay leaves and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add orzo to the pot and continue to simmer until farro and pasta are cooked through but still al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes longer.
While farro is cooking, prepare the dressing: Finely grate zest from the lemons, and place zest in a large bowl. Squeeze juice from 1 1/2 lemons and add to zest along with salt, pepper and red-pepper flakes, whisking to combine. Gradually whisk in oil. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice from the other lemon half, or both, if needed.
Drain farro-pasta mixture, discarding bay leaves. Add to bowl with dressing and toss well. Stir in apricots. Let farro and pasta cool, soaking up the dressing. This can be done up to 1 day in advance. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before proceeding.
In a small bowl, combine onions, celery, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and a large pinch of salt. Let sit while the pasta cools, at least 20 minutes.
Just before serving, add onion mixture and almonds to the bowl with the farro and pasta and toss well. Gently fold in spinach, goat cheese, mint and parsley. Taste and add more lemon, red-pepper flakes or salt if needed.
Drizzle with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper before serving.