Meatless Monday: Caprese Di Farro

This Meatless Monday, try a pasta-salad alternative made with whole-grain farro, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Farro is a whole grain similar to wheat berries; it's sometimes called emmer (especially in Italy or in Italian import stores). It's a flavorful little grain with a nutty, chewy texture. You can throw cooked farro into a green salad or use it in soups in place of pasta. Bonus: it freezes well so you can cook a whole bunch and freeze it in freezer bags for when you don't have time to wait for it to cook. You can find farro in Italian stores, health food stores and in many grocery stores; I like to buy it in the bulk bins at the health food store because it's cheaper that way.

Debi and Gabriele's Caprese Di Farro salad is a good introduction to this grain; it's foolproof so even if it's your first time cooking with farro, you can't really mess it up. "Caprese" means "in the style of Capri," an Italian region best known for the mozzarella-basil-tomato combination everyone loves. Be sure to use real, high-quality fresh mozzarella cheese in this simple salad; the processed kind isn't the same.

Caprese Di Farro

1 pound farro
10 ounces organic cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1 (5-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, chopped
1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
2 ounces pitted kalamata olives
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, toss in the farro and cook for 20 minutes, strain, and rinse with cold water, then set aside.

Add the tomatoes to a bowl, add the mozzarella, rip the basil leaves with your hands, and add the olives.

Season with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for tomorrow's picnic.

We're heading into picnic season; get a little creative with your summer salads this year. Haven't you made pasta salad enough times in your life? Mix it up and try a whole-grain, better-for-you pasta alternative like farro, quinoa or wheat berries in your next picnic salad.

More Whole-Grain Summer Salads:
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