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Farro Piccolo and Avocado Salad with Pistachios and Celery

Five ingredients in search of a recipe.

4 light main-course portions


About 30 minutes


Can five ingredients acting as free agents come to common purpose on first bite? We argue yes. This simple consort of avocado cubes, farro piccolo, chopped pistachios, and celery half moons wreathed with lemon-dressed pea tendrils proves that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. There is something about the flavors and textures these ingredients bring into play that creates ultra-sensory magic on the tongue. You’ll have to make the salad yourself to see.

Cooking Remarks

The avocados for this recipe should be ripe, but not dead ripe: they should be firm enough to dice and for the dice to keep their shape.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe you will need three small bowls, small whisk, a small skillet, a mesh colander or large sieve, a medium saucepan, a ⅓-cup dry measure, an ice cream scoop, and four individual plates for serving.

  • for the vinaigrette:

    • teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 2
      tablespoons juice from 1 juicy lemon
    • ½
      teaspoon maple syrup
    • ¼
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
    • 3
      tablespoons mildly fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • for the salad:

    • ½
      cup shelled raw pistachios
    • Fine sea salt
    • 4
      slender celery ribs (about 5 ounces)
    • 3
      medium (8- to 9-ounce) ripe Hass avocados
    • 1
      tablespoon juice from 1 juicy lime
    • 3
      tablespoons minced sweet onion
    • ½
      teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1
    • 3
      ounces (about 8 lightly packed cups) pea shoots or other fresh, tender spring greens

    Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper and whisk well to combine. Whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time. Set aside.


    Prepare the salad: In a small skillet, toast the pistachios over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the nuts into a mesh colander or large sieve, let cool slightly, and then scrub them against the mesh to coax their skins loose. Pick the nuts out of the colander, leaving the skins behind. Chop the nuts coarsely, turn them into a bowl, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Set aside.


    Fill a medium saucepan with 1 quart of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Trim the celery, peel away the strings, and slice the ribs into ¼-inch pieces. When the water reaches a boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt and the celery, and blanch just until the celery turns bright green, about 10 seconds. Drain in the colander or sieve and rinse under running cold water until cool. Dry the celery on several thicknesses of paper toweling, and then turn the slices into a small bowl.


    Halve each avocado from pole to pole around the pit. Twist to separate the halves and remove and discard the pit. Using a paring knife, carefully peel each half. Set each half cut side down and slice it horizontally into thirds, and then lengthwise into quarters. Cut crosswise to dice the avocado and turn the pieces into a medium bowl. Sprinkle the diced avocados with the lime juice; add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper; and gently toss with a fork. 


    Turn the farro into a small bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, spoon about 2 teaspoons over the farro, and toss to combine. Turn the pea shoots into a large bowl, drizzle up to 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the shoots, and toss until evenly coated. Divide the pea shoots among four individual plates, wreathing them around the perimeter. Using a ⅓-cup dry measure, scoop up some farro and pack it with the palm of your hand. Invert the farro into the center of the plate, inside the ring of greens, and then use the back of a spoon to flatten the mound. With an ice cream scoop, drop one-quarter of the avocado mixture on top of the farro on each plate. Spoon a generous 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette on the blanched celery slices and toss to combine. Sprinkle the celery on the farro and scatter the chopped pistachios over the avocado, evenly dividing the ingredients. Serve the salads immediately. (Refrigerate extra vinaigrette in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)