Like so many nutritious revivals, farro is currently enjoying a renaissance in trendy California restaurants, and the popularity is spreading. It should. Grains are affordable, contribute to a sensible diet, accenting and stretching more expensive items. Also known as emmer, farro is not a wheat, but an independent, tan-colored, grain which looks and tastes somewhat like brown rice. It has a slight heft to it which makes it nutty, dense and pleasantly chewy; it is similar to spelt but not the same.
The Egyptians loved their farro thousands of years ago when the invading Romans took a liking to it. It became associated with Italian food for many years, then wheat overtook its popularity until a revival which started in the 1990s.
It’s not only trendy but good for you. Farro is high in fiber, is high in protein and a great source of magnesium and useful, slow-releasing carbohydrates. It is also a food compatible with those who have an intolerance for gluten.
Store it in tightly closed packages or jars away from light and dampness. Frozen, cooked farro will keep in the freezer for several months; refrigerated farro keeps up to five days. Reheat with a small amount of broth or water.
Farro is available as a cracked or whole kernel grain and in pasta as a milled as flour. If you can’t find farro locally, it is available over the web from many suppliers.
Sauced instead of pasta
Alternative to rice
GOES WELL WITH:
Onions, celery, carrot, peppers and garlic
Rosemary, Thyme, Nutmeg
Chives and parsley
Grated cheese, ricotta
Purchase pearled or semi-pearled farro. While it is a little less nutrient-filled, it cooks more quickly.
Traditional or “Pasta method:”
- For 1 cup farro, bring 3-4 cups salted water to a boil.
- Cook on a low boil for 15 minutes, or until it is pleasingly tender.
- Drain, use in recipe or as suggested dishes above.
Flavored or “Pilaf method:”
- For 1 cup farro, add 2 cups broth, sautéed vegetables or water with herbs.
- Cover tightly and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes until liquid absorbed and desired doneness.
- Use as side dish.