Black Bean & Farro Salad with Avocado & Lime Vinaigrette

There are so many reasons to love this salad: it can be made ahead; it is loaded with plant-based protein and fibre; it is a great way to use up leftovers like canned beans and cilantro; and, of course, it tastes amazing.

When I made this salad, I had originally planned to make a side dish with farro. Spotting some leftover beans and cilantro in my fridge and an avocado in my fruit basket, I decided to look instead for a recipe that would use all of those ingredients. I found one on the Once Upon a Chef site but didn’t have nearly enough beans. With the box of farro still sitting on my counter, inspiration struck. I thought to myself: “Why not add farro in place of some of the beans?”

It was not exactly a revolutionary idea, but it worked so well. Bean salads are great but the texture of all those beans can be a little dense. The farro offered a lighter texture while still providing a lot protein and fibre, like beans do. And farro holds up very well in a salad like this. The addition of farro also showed how versatile this salad can be, making it perfect for a wide range of leftovers: kidney beans, white beans, barley, brown rice, freekeh, millet. Just be sure to account for the differences in size of the various beans and grains you use. The dressing contains a fair amount of oil and lime juice, so you need enough grains and beans to use it all up. If you are unsure, start by adding just a small amount of dressing and add more until the salad is dressed to your liking. See my notes on ratios, below the recipe, for more on that topic.

You can also mix up the vegetables to include whatever you have on hand: tomatoes, corn (which was in the original recipe), cucumber, edamame–anything goes really.

Black Bean and Farro Salad with Avocado and Lime Vinaigrette

Seeking to find use for some leftover black beans, red onion and cilantro, I adapted a recipe from Once Upon a Chef, swapping in farro for some of the beans. Note that the cook time includes time for cooking the farro. If you have some already cooked, that time will be reduced. The salad should also be chilled before serving, with the avocado added after it has chilled.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 40 minutes
Course: Lunch, Side Dish
Keyword: Avocado, Beans, Farro, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 side servings


  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked farro From 1/2 cup dry.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar See Notes, below.
  • 4 1/2 tsbp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, or more to taste
  • 3 tsbp fresh lime juice, or more to taste See Notes, below.
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped Plus more for garnish.
  • 1 Hass avocado, chopped Cut after salad has chilled.
  • lime wedges for serving Optional.


  • Cook farro according to package directions. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool. Or cook farro ahead of time and use cooled when assembling this salad.
  • Combine beans, cooled farro, bell pepper, garlic and onion in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, olive oil, lime zest and lime juice. Pour over bean and farro mix, then stir gently until thoroughly combined. Chill for at least two hours. Taste and adjust seasoning and lime juice if needed.
  • Just before serving, chop avocado. Add to salad, stirring gently to combine and coat it with dressing. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve with lime wedges for an additional squeeze of lime, if desired.


  • This recipe is suitable as a side dish for 3-4 people or lunch for 1-2 (with leftovers if you are only serving one). You can easily double it to make it a main course or a side serving for more people. 
  • The original recipe called for a tablespoon of sugar which sounded like too much. I cut that in half, to 1 1/2 tsp, but you may want to start with even less. You can also substitute honey or agave syrup for the granulated sugar. 
  • Lime juice can be overpowering but I love it and tend to add extra. Start small and add more as needed. As suggested here, you can also serve the salad with lime wedges so people can add extra lime juice if they prefer. 


The original recipe, on which this one is based, called for about 2 cups of beans (or one 15oz can). I had 1 cup of beans and needed to add enough cooked farro to make up for the reduced amount of beans.

I added 1 cup of farro then added the full amount of dressing. I could see there was too much dressing and had a rethink. As with any substitution like in a salad like this, you have to consider the volume of the ingredients. Individual bits of cooked farro are far smaller than black beans. Since I didn’t add enough farro to account for the size difference, the dressing was a little heavy. Fortunately, I had extra cooked farro, totalling about 1 1/2 cups. I added the remaining cooked farro which created the perfect balance of dressing to ingredients.

So if you swap in a larger bean–like kidney beans–or a smaller grain–like millet or brown rice–you need to be mindful of the ratio of dressing to ingredients. With smaller ingredients, go light with the dressing at first. Or, if you are using kidney beans, perhaps add 2/3 of a cup to account for their larger size. It’s all a matter of experimenting. If you find you are light on dressing, you can always make a little more.

Black Bean and Farro Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Image of grain bowl:  216478298 © Kseniia Gorova |

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