One of Mr. Peach’s favorite meals is a really delightful pasta salad with penne, avocado, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes that his mom made growing up. We make it at least a few times a year, usually in the summer, and it’s always a big hit.
Maybe I was feeling inspired by the spring-like weather we’ve been having lately. Or maybe it’s because I can never look a log of fresh mozzarella in the face without making immediate plans to eat it. Whatever the case, this past week I accidentally (but really on purpose) bought too many avocados, tomatoes, and mozzarella — almost everything you need to make that pasta salad. And even though I have a big box of penne hanging out in my cupboard right now, I’m having a bit of a love/hate relationship with pasta at the moment.
I love everything about pasta except that I’m always hungry again about 10 seconds after I eat it.
I used farro in place of the pasta and absolutely loved it. The chewiness of the farro just gives it so much texture and the slightly nutty flavor of that little power grain adds more than a little something in the flavor department.
We served this over a bed of spinach because, well, vegetables are good for you. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and more grated parmesan than is considered decent and you’ve got yourself a nutritious and vegetarian meal salad that I hope you’ll love as much as we do.
- 4 cups cooked farro (cook according to package instructions)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
- 15 basil leaves (stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- To serve:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Parmesan cheese
- In a large bowl, toss together the farro (make sure it's cool or room temperature) with olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes, mozzarella, and avocado. Add the chili flakes, basil leaves, and season liberally with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice and/or olive oil, if desired.
- Serve at room temperature over a bed of spinach and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and grated parmesan cheese.