Thursday | December 14, 2017
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LET’S TALK FOOD: Farro, the ancient grain

Did you know farro, or emmer wheat, is the oldest cultivated grain in the world? Eaten for more than 5,000 years and the grain of the Roman Empire, it is too bad it was replaced by its distant cousin, wheat. It is still a popular grain in Italy, areas in Europe and the Middle East.

Farro grows in poor soil, is resistant to fungus, but it has low yields. In the world of business, when replaced with high yielding wheat, it is no wonder we don’t see much of farro!

Farro is not a wheat, but a plant and grain all one its own. It is not gluten-free but lower in gluten than wheat. The complex carbohydrates as rich in cyanogenic glucosides, which helpts stimulate innume system, regulate blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol. It takes longer to digest farro so you stay full longer and helps lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Besides the antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, and betaine, 1/2 cup of raw farro is 170 calories, has 1.5 grams fat, 34 mg carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 2 mg iron, 6 grams protein, 4 mg niacin, 60 mg of magnesium, and 2 mg zinc.

Soak farro in water to soften overnight before cooking (unless you can get the semipearled version) and when cooking use twice as much water as farro. Simmer for 30 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

My most recent issue of Cooking Light, June 2104, featured a summer salad, Farro, Cherry and Walnut Salad.

Farro, Cherry, and Walnut Salad

Cooking Light Magazine

June 2014, Page 98

Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add to boiling water, cook 15 minutes or until al dente:

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups pearled farro ( again, if using regular farro, I recommend you soak it in water overnight)

Drain, cool at room temperature, 15 minutes. Combine in a large bowl:

3/4 pound sweet cherries, pitted and halved, about 2 cups

2/3 cup diced celery

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Combine in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Gradually add, stirring constantly with a whisk:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pour dressing over farro mixture, toss to coat.

If you have kale, this salad with farro is a great summer supper.

Kale and Farro Salad

Combine in a salad bowl, toss:

1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces

1/2 cup cooked farro

3 carrots, shredded

1 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

In a blender, combine and puree until smooth:

2 large green onions, rinsed and chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 slices avocado

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon mustard

While motor is running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Farro makes a great replacement for Arborio rice when making risotto.

Farro Risotto

Serves 4-6

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes:

2-1/2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled

Sprinkle with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until the edges are browned and crisp. Remove from oven and sprinkle while still hot with:

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sage, chopped

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. Stir in and cook for 15 minutes

1 cup pearled or semi pearled faro (If you use the regular farro, soak overnight before cooking)

Drain, reserving l cup of cooking liquid, set aside.

I a 4 quart pan, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil


2 cups Hamakua mushrooms, chopped

Saute for about 3 minutes, remove from pan, set aside.

In the same pan that you cooked the mushrooms, over medium heat, add:

3 tablespoons butter

4 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 sprig thyme

Cook until shallots are slightly caramelized, 3 minutes. Add the cooked farro, stir to coat with butter.

Add and let simmer:

1/2 cup dry white wine

Turn heat to low, alternately add in 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly with each addition, not adding more liquid until the previous 1/4 cup has been completely absorbed, 30 minutes:

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup cooking liquid from cooking farro

Add sautéed mushrooms and roasted pumpkin or squash.

Fold in and stir until melted:

1-1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Fold in:

1 tablespoon crème fraiche*

*Crème fraiche is sour cream and to make your own simply mix 1 pint heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk together. Allow to rest at room temperature for 12 hours, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Small Bites:

The semipearled version is called “semiperlato” in Italy takes less time to cook because some of the bran has been removed.

Please feel free to email me at if you have questions.


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