Warm Mushroom & Caprese Farro Salad

This week brought my best ever produce delivery.  I practically squealed with delight when I opened the box.  It included two baskets of heirloom cherry tomatoes, varying in color and size from tiny yellow pears, to luscious orange, to giant red and my very favorite, purple tomatoes.  Each of these little beauties was at the peak of ripeness and it took every ounce of willpower to keep from gorging myself on them before they could make it into my salad. 

The riches didn’t end with the tomatoes; I also found a perfect bunch of fresh basil, kale, the sweetest carrots and some fabulous fruit.  While it was tempting to come up with a recipe that included everything, the tomatoes and basil were really calling my name!

Who doesn’t love a caprese salad?  After all, I had the tomatoes and basil, just add some good mozzarella and I would be there.  But I really wanted something a little bit more this time.  The crispness of fall is sneaking into the morning and evening air which inspired me to create this salad which embraces the bridge between the seasons by being both cool and fresh and warm and slightly hearty at the same time.

If you haven’t tried farro or simply can’t find it, you easily substitute barley or quinoa (just be sure to rinse it well before cooking – no one wants a stomach ache!)  My husband is not a fan of farro, but I love the heartiness of it, slightly chewy and a little bit nutty, I think it is the perfect foundation for this salad.  One tip, be sure to drain of the excess liquid when it is done and “dry it out a bit” uncovered in the sauce pan by continuing to cook over low heat.  You don’t want the farro to be wet for this salad, although you do want it to be slightly warm.

The other key element of this salad is properly cooked mushrooms.  It isn’t difficult, but there is a very definite method and once you master it, you will never look back!  Here is the secret:  1) equal parts butter (good butter) and olive oil; 2) don’t stir or move the mushrooms for at least 2 minutes; 3) do NOT salt the mushrooms until close to the end of cooking.  If you follow these tips, your mushrooms will always be wonderfully browned, caramelized and full of that earthy “mushroom-y” flavor you are looking for.  If you don’t, you will end up with flavorless, limp and boring mushrooms!

 

Serve this slightly warm to get the most out of the mushrooms and let the mozzarella soften a bit.

 

2 Responses to “Warm Mushroom & Caprese Farro Salad”

  1. Sophie

    This looks freaking fantastic!

    If I can’t get hold of cremini mushrooms is there an appropriate substitute?

    I’d love to throw some goats cheese in the mix too :-)

  2. Nancy

    Cremini mushrooms are simply brown mushrooms, so feel free to use regular white button mushrooms and it will work perfectly well. Goat cheese would be fantastic in the dish as well. It is more of a “salad guide” than an actual recipe!

    Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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