Farro is an ancient grain, dating back to pre-Roman times. It is a distant cousin of wheat and is very similar in taste to spelt. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten is weaker than wheat, making it more easily digested. And the farro grain itself isn’t refined, making it a newly re-discovered favorite of mine for those of us able to eat gluten.
Farro is a hearty grain. By hearty, I mean whole grain. And by whole grain, I mean grains that contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Most of us are familiar with whole wheat or brown rice, but there are many other great whole grains.
What makes farro great? For me, it reminds me of my childhood. Italians frequently use this grain, and my mother, born in Italy, used to add it to soup. But beyond my sentimental attachment, farro has two times the protein and fiber of wheat and is high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It is anti-inflammatory and has been shown to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help to stabilize blood sugar.
Farro is a really great, really simple to cook, really healthy ingredient for you to incorporate into your family’s diet.
Here are some ways that it can be prepared:
Cook the farro as you would cook brown rice. Rinse it, add to boiling water, and cook for 30-40 minutes until it is tender. When it’s done cooking, strain. Then add some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
Cook the farro as you would cook risotto. Saute onion in olive oil. Add the uncooked farro and saute for another few minutes. Turn the heat up to high and add white wine. Cook until wine has evaporated (you can no longer smell the alcohol) and then add a ladle full of hot broth. Continue cooking on medium high, stirring constantly, while continuously adding more broth. Do this for 30 minutes or until tender. You can add some grated cheese at the end and a touch of olive oil. Mushrooms are also great. Chop and add them in with the onions.
Add the farro to your favorite soup. I enjoy it with minestrone soup, as my mother prepared it. Or, try a white bean and kale soup with farro. Yum!!