Insalata di Caprese is one of those classic Italian recipes that shouldn't be reinvented. It's so simple and delicious just as it is—sliced mozzarella layered with sliced tomatoes and basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil. But there is room for reinterpretation, especially when you take those familiar flavors and ingredients and turn them into a whole new kind of salad.
I love grains in all their many forms, but they are most interesting when left whole and unadulterated. Wheat berries, for example, are wonderful in a salad. The Italian grain farro, which is related to spelt, is another whole grain that makes a great salad. This recipe combines farro with the ingredients of a classic Caprese salad. All the components that make a healthy and refreshing salad are right here.
Instead of sliced mozzarella and tomatoes, I use small bocconcini and cherry and cocktail tomatoes. For added tang, I drizzle the salad with red-wine vinegar. Serve this salad in place of the usual pasta or macaroni salad at your next picnic. It's perfect as a side dish for grilled meats, like steak or chicken. But it can even make a terrific light appetizer. Add some whole grains to your diet with this recipe. It will have you going back for seconds—even thirds.
Farro Caprese Salad
1 pound farro, rinsed
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bocconcini
12 ounces mixed heirloom cherry and cocktail tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
Boil farro in liberally salted water until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain farro and spread on a tray to cool to room temperature.
Add farro to a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and vinegar to taste. Toss to coat evenly. Fold in bocconcini, tomatoes, and basil. Serve at room temperature or chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Yield: 8 servings.