Throughout spring and summer I regularly make grain salads to pack for lunch or easy weeknight dinners. I mix a cooked grain with whatever vegetables or fruit are on hand and toss with a complementary vinaigrette. Sometimes it’s thrown together just before eating, but some of the best salads get at least a few hours in the fridge so the ingredients have a chance to get to know one another.
This time of year we have a farro salad on rotation that I like to think of as the love child of cherry season’s finale and basil season’s debut. Farro’s sweet nuttiness and satisfying chew make it an ideal base for a grain salad and the perfect partner to juicy, ever-so-slightly tart cherries and smooth, salty mozzarella. A lime vinaigrette and fresh basil brighten up the flavors and bring it all together. It works in the same way the combination of tomato, mozzarella, and balsamic does, replacing the tomato with cherry and balsamic with lime juice.
Farro, Cherry, and Mozzarella Salad
Serves 4 as a meal or 8 as a side
1 cup uncooked farro
1/2 lb. mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 lb. Rainier cherries, pitted and halved
Juice of 1/2 a lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup loosely packed basil, julienned
1. Soak the farro overnight (optional). Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drain and rinse the farro and boil until cooked through but still chewy, 5-10 minutes (add at least 5 more minutes if not soaked). Drain and chill.
2. Toss the farro, cherries, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and salt to a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, sprinkle on the basil, and toss to combine. Serve room temperature or chilled.
Elizabeth’s Wine Pairing:
For this audacious recipe, something American works because of the spirit of the dish. An ideal pairing would have higher acidity and be fruit-driven to complement the cherries and the tartness of the lime juice. As there is grainy starch from the farro, it should have some body as well. I like the Baker Lane because it has all of the above – bright red-fruited notes, lively acidity and a good depth and a spicier edge. Serve not too chilled and let the aromas bloom!