Farro with lettuce, red onion, celery, and olives

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Farro with lettuce, red onion, celery, and olives

The average daily census for pediatric inpatients at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center was 21 during 2006. Sixteen of those beds were filled by children from medical centers all around the region.

 The families of these often seriously ill children have to find places to stay and eat, often on very short notice. This takes resources that many just don't have. 

A small team of families and coworkers just hosted the first Cooking for Kids event at a colleague's home. A four-course, seasonal dinner in good company was enjoyed and a significant amount of money was raised. 

Our hospital's pediatric social workers now have the beginnings of a fund to use to help the families of our youngest patients. Quarterly events are planned, and a number of people have already stepped forward to help in the future, including someone from another facility who sends patients to us. 

This recipe is probably not a dinner party dish. But it's healthy, tasty, and very simple. It uses farro, a robust grain easily found at Italian delis, and fresh vegetables.

Servings: 4


  • 2 cups farro
  • 1 head lettuce of your choice
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cover farro with water about 2 inches deep. Bring to a boil then simmer until crunchy tender. Just follow the instructions on the package. I've had some that took only 13 minutes and some that took 30 minutes.
  2. Drain it. Rinse, drain, and dry the lettuce. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. 
  3. Whisk the olive oil into vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Toss the remaining ingredients with the farro, lettuce, and dressing. 
  5. Serve as is or with a pan-roasted protein source like chicken or salmon.