2000s Recipes + Menus

Cucumber, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Farro Salad

  • Active time:25 min
  • Start to finish:3 3/4 hr (includes time for setting)
April 2009
Food editor Maggie Ruggiero was humming for weeks after enjoying a salad of fresh buffalo mozzarella, cucumber, and the Italian wheat called farro at the Manhattan restaurant Il Buco. She set about reimagining it, and her version’s accents—tender lettuce, basil, and a light, lemony dressing—beautifully compliment the cheese. Since fresh mozzerella is the star here, it’s essential to use the best you can find. We love the kind traditionally made in Italy from the milk of water buffalo for its custardlike texture and sweet, milky tang. Recently, some American producers have gotten in on the act as well.
  • 1/3 cup farro
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo mozzarella)
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 oz mâche or other soft lettuce, leaves torn if large (about 4 cups)
  • small handful of basil leaves, torn if large
  • Cook farro in 1 Tbsp oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in water and 1/4 tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Spread on a plate and cool completely.
  • Whisk together lemon juice, zest, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and remaining 1/4 cup oil. Stir 2 Tbsp dressing into cooled farro.
  • Slice mozzarella, then arrange over cucumber slices on plates and top with mâche and basil. Drizzle salads with remaining dressing and sprinkle with farro.
Cooks’ note: To help its flavor blossom, bring the ball of mozzarella to room temperature by soaking it (in its original packaging) in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
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