Most people count Memorial Day as the Official Start of Summer, but for me it’s less about the passing of a specific date and more about a certain feeling that starts to take over both myself and everyone around me. At least in the cities I’ve lived in, as soon as warm weather hits and seems like it’s here to stay, the change in mood is almost palpable. It’s like we’ve been released from the winter freeze, and man does it feel good. Restaurants with outdoor seating become packed (even on weeknights!), Central Park is alive again with bicyclists, runners, and walkers, people slow down and just look generally happy – it’s a good feeling.
And then, of course, there’s the food aspect of it. Just like it wouldn’t feel like fall without pumpkin or spring without asparagus, I refuse to even entertain the idea of summer until I’ve had my first caprese salad. There’s something about the simple, yet undeniably perfect combination of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella that embodies the spirit of summer with its fresh, clean flavors.
I’ve eaten caprese salad on its own for dinner on more occasions than I care to admit, mostly due to a lack of self control on my part, but every summer I try to come up with a new way to incorporate it into a main meal. This year, I’ve been really into farro as a base for grain salads. I just love its nutty flavor and chewy texture, and the fact that it takes only 15 minutes to cook is an added bonus (a rarity in the world of whole grains!). Obviously I couldn’t resist combining the two, resulting in this delicious farro caprese salad!
This salad is a cinch to make, combining farro with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls, making it perfect for those days when you don’t want to spend too much time in front of the stove. Topped with a basil vinaigrette that comes together in the food processor in minutes and a toasted pine nut garnish, it is a true 30 minute meal and the kind that you’ll want to keep in your fridge for random caprese cravings all summer long.
If you can't find the small fresh mozzarella balls (sometimes called bocconcini or ciliegine) you can always use a large fresh mozzarella ball and cut it into smaller chunks.
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