Farro is often called the mother of all wheat. This hearty grain was an important part of the daily diet in ancient Rome and has been traced even farther back to early Mesopotamia.
It’s a staple in European cooking, especially Italian. We encourage you to add it to your menu rotation and take advantage of its nutty flavor and chewy texture. It can be used for a hearty hot cereal, soups, stews, casseroles and salads. With summer coming and fresh vegetables at the ready, we think it’s a great way to change up some of the warm weather recipes in your menu rotation.
Farro is similar in its nutrient profile to quinoa, and is higher in plant-based protein than rice. Great for vegetarian and vegan recipes, it will keep everyone at the table full thanks to its fiber content and healthy thanks to the antioxidants, iron, magnesium and zinc it contains.
If you tried farro before and found it took too long to cook or just never seemed to get cooked, put those memories aside!
When you shop for farro, you can tell the cooking time by knowing how it is processed.
Pearled farro grains have been lightly scratched to allow for a faster cooking time and to encourage the release of starches while still allowing the grain to retain its wholesome nutrients. Semi-pearled farro has a reduced cooking time, as well; half the grains in this produce have been left intact and not scratched. Whole farro grains are all intact and have the most nutrients and strongest flavor. They must be soaked overnight and still takes at least 30 minutes to cook.
At The Purple Onion, we sell Bob’s Red Mill Farro, which is pearled.
Let’s start with some cooking basics. Using pearled farro, we offer a basic recipe that includes instructions for pre-soaking, stovetop, slow cooker and multi-cooker methods. You can pick the one that works best for you.
Farro’s nutty flavor and chewy texture is delicious in a simple salad of lemon juice, feta and fresh herbs. You could substitute farro for the bulgur in a Tabbouleh salad. We offer two salad suggestions here — Farro with Pistachio, Herbs and Golden Raisins and Farro Salad with Tomato and Herbs. They take advantage of the fresh produce available now.
For a heartier salad, try Summer Farro Salad with Grilled Steak. Don’t be hesitant to substitute grilled chicken or shrimp in this recipe.
Looking for a meal that’s a little heartier? Pasta and Farro or Sausage, Cauliflower and Farro Casserole will fill the bill.
You’ll begin to see what those early civilizations saw in this tasty grain!