Things I’m Loving Lately:
1. Peaches. Last year a late frost killed all the peaches in Massachusetts (and most of them across the rest of New England, too!) so it’s been two years since I’ve had a local peach. We went peach-picking at Quonquont Farm yesterday and I feel like everything is right again in the universe.
2. Trail Running. I stopped running a few years ago because it was no longer bringing me joy, and instead turned to more hiking, biking, walking, and other enjoyable movement at the gym. This past week I discovered some trails that weave through the marsh next to our house, and randomly got the urge to run. The hard-packed trails and variety of ups-and-downs on the trail felt great to run on. What movement have you been enjoying lately?
3. Farro. I’ve been buying this brand, and love it’s thick, chewy texture in grain bowls and salads. I’ve even been using it in place of brown rice in burrito bowls because it seems to fill me up more. Since I have a major crush on farro and have been eating it nonstop for a few weeks, I figured it was about time I share a recipe with you that uses it. Hence, today’s blog post.
Today’s recipe has my inner history nerd jumping for joy; it’s an Italian-inspired farro salad (aka the grain the ancient Romans used to eat!) that’s loaded with juicy summer tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and tossed with a lemony homemade pesto. This salad is a stunning addition to any summer meal, and leftovers keep well for lunch the next day, meaning you could totally turn this into a back-to-school lunch meal, if needed.
How do you pronounce the word Caprese? Do you say Cah-PREE-zii, or Cuh-PREES, or Cah-PRAY-zay or what? I am usually confident in my American pronunciations of Italian words, and watched enough Giada di Laurentiis as a teenager that I feel like I know what I’m doing/saying, but Caprese is always one that eludes me. Sometimes I say Cuh-PREES and sometimes I say Cah-PRAY-zay and sometimes I bipass the whole linguistic dilemma that is Italian food and just call it a tomato-basil-mozzarella salad. Clearly, it’s not easy being me.
If you’ve never had farro before, it’s essentially an ancient cousin of wheat, similar in flavor and texture to barley or wheatberries. Thick, fluffy, tender, yet a little chewy- farro is everything I want in a grain bowl, summer salad, or hearty meatless meal. The texture is sort of like a cross between al dente pasta and brown rice, which gives this pesto-drenched salad a satisfying chew. It’s also loaded with protein and fiber, which makes the typical Caprese salad much more filling and meal-time appropriate.
Regardless of how you say Caprese, I think you’re going to love this quick, easy, satisfying summer salad. Cooked farro gets tossed in homemade pesto (that’s made with plenty of basil, lemon juice, garlic, and hempseeds!), topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and baby mozzarella balls, and despite being so simple, turns into an elegant, ultra-flavorful meal or side dish that’s perfect for literally anything you have planned for the rest of the summer.
If you make this recipe, let me know by leaving a comment here or taking a picture and tagging me on Instagram so I can see all your gorgeous farro salads!
- 2 cups farro + 1/2 teaspoon salt and water to cook
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 8oz Ciliegene Fresh Mozzarella (aka the tiny balls of fresh mozz)*
- 1 batch of pesto, recipe below
- 4 cups basil leaves (about 4oz)
- 1/2 cup hempseeds (can sub walnuts, pine nuts, or other nut of choice)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice from 2 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1. Put farro and salt into a medium pot and cover with at least 4 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. When finished cooking, drain farro and place in a large serving bowl.
- 2. While farro cooks, make the pesto. Put all pesto ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour the pesto over the warm, drained farro and toss to combine. Let the pesto-coated farro cool for 10 minutes before adding the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, so they don't cook.
- 3. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters, and arrange them on top of the farro with the fresh mozzarella.Add a pinch of salt and pepper on top of the tomatoes and mozzarella. Serve as is for a prettier presentation, or toss all together to distribute the pesto onto the tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Salad can be served slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- *If you can't find mini mizzarella balls (aka Ciliegene), an 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella, chopped into small cubes, will work just as well here.