Last week, John had a one-day business trip, leaving Cholula and I to fend for ourselves. Once I got Miss Lazy Bones out of bed, we took a semi-snowy hike (and found a hint of Christmas).
Often, when I have a single-girl night to myself, I’ll pick up take-out or heat up a frozen pizza and settle in with a chick flick for the evening. But sometimes, I get a burst of creativity and use this time to try a new recipe. On this day, I worked out a tasty twist on a caprese salad.
Traditionally, a caprese salad involves thick slices of tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil and maybe a drizzle of balsamic reduction. When the farmers market is overflowing with juicy garden tomatoes, it’s one of my favorite summertime treats. For my single-girl supper, I took the elements and flavors from a caprese salad, added some protein and a fresh homemade dressing, and ended up with something fabulous.
I started with the dressing, which is really the kicker for this dish. Into the food processor, I added olive oil, lemon, white wine vinegar, a little honey, fresh minced garlic, and a big handful of basil leaves. For heat, I added a bit of cayenne pepper (I love spicy dressings!) and some salt and pepper. I pureed the whole thing together and gave it a taste: sweet and spicy with plenty of basil flavor to keep with the caprese theme. Scrumptious! I poured it into a jam jar and set it aside.
I decided to use farro in my caprese twist, which is a grain similar to barley with a bit of a chewy texture. I simmered it in a combination of chicken broth and water with a pinch of salt and pepper until the farro was cooked. I drained any extra water and transferred the farro to a bowl.
Next, I prepared all of my caprese ingredients. I cut cherry tomatoes and grape-sized mozzarella balls in half and shredded more fresh basil. I also chopped up some grilled chicken breast. I stirred it all into the farro, poured some of the spicy lemon-basil vinaigrette over the top, and gave it another stir. The farro absorbs the dressing, making it more flavorful and delicious. I started with about half of the dressing and added more as needed.
I was content after just one bite. This farro dish has all of the components of a caprese salad, plus a kick from the cayenne and a hint of sweetness from the honey in the dressing. The dressing is the star of the recipe, packing each bite with flavor. The dish is light and fresh but quite filling (thank you, farro). It could easily be a meatless meal by preparing the farro in water or vegetarian stock and omitting the chicken. You could also substitute the farro for brown rice, barley, or couscous.
I enjoyed my single-girl supper at room temperature that night, which was delish. The next day, I had some cold caprese farro for lunch: also delish. John warmed up a bowl of it and loved how the mozzarella melted into everything else. And the dressing will be a staple in our fridge. I tried it on a steak salad later in the week. YUM.
My favorite thing about Chicken Caprese Farro is having a taste of summer goodness, even in February. It was perfect for my single-girl evening (and yes, I even squeezed in a chick flick).
Chicken Caprese Farro with Spicy Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
For the dressing, you’ll need:
- ½ cup (or more) fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Pinch of salt and pepper
For the farro, you’ll need:
- 1 cup farro
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ¾ cup halved mozzarella balls (or one-inch chunks)
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
- ¾ cup grilled chicken, chopped
Prepare farro according to directions, simmering in the water/broth for 40 minutes or until cooked. Drain excess liquid and place in a large bowl.
For the dressing, combing basil leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper in a food processor. Puree and set aside in a jam jar.
Into the bowl with the farro, stir the tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and chicken. Add dressing, starting with a small amount and adding more to taste. Enjoy on a sunny deck in summertime, or while watching a chick flick on the couch in February. YUM.
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.
One year ago: A few of my favorite Park City trails.