Farro with Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

by Gena on January 10, 2013

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Farro (FAHR-oh) is all the rage lately. You’ve probably run across it in restaurants, on the internet, or in one of your favorite contemporary cookbooks. It’s not hard to see why people love it so much: farro is chewy, versatile, and higher in protein than some other grains (7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup dry grain—this is slightly more than the protein in a serving of quinoa), which may mean it helps you to stay sated longer. It’s delicious as a breakfast cereal, handy for tossing into salads, and, though I haven’t tried it, it would make quite a fun addition to a rustic vegetable soup, too.

Farro happens to be one of the oldest cultivated grains on the planet. Eight major “founder crops”—so called because so many of our contemporary staple crops are derived from them—are thought to have sprung from the Fertile Crescent, a region that contained parts of Western Asia, as well as the Nile Valley and Nile Delta of northeast Africa, around 7000 B.C. They include emmer wheat (triticum dicoccum, an ancestor of the durum wheat we use in breads and cereals today), einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum), flax, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and barley. In Italy, the name “farro” may be given to three ancient wheat species, emmer, einkorn, and spelt (Triticum spelta), but experts seem to agree that true farro comes from emmer wheat. So farro has been a part of human history for millenia, sustaining us with protein, fiber, and iron (12% of the RDA per serving).

Historical trivia aside, farro is easy to prepare and oh-so-fun to chew. I now prefer it to barley and wheatberries, which are my other favorite “chewy” grains. Since I enjoyed it at Eat a few weeks ago and then created my own version of a farro and beet salad, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with the stuff. Today, as part of a Food52 post on the beauty of whole grains, I’m featuring an exquisite farro dish with savory leeks and balsamic roasted brussels sprouts. It’s flavorful, wintery, and full of texture.

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No matter how many times we hear about how whole grains are packed with fiber, and associated with reduced risk of numerous chronic diseases, many home cooks remain a little intimidated by cooking whole grains. Today on Food52, I share tips for storing, selecting, cooking, and seasoning whole grain dishes. For the recipe and the information, click over now!

See you all soon,

xo

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Emma January 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Love any hearty wholegrain, farro included :) This recipe looks good as do all your suggestions over on food52. This one reminds me of another I enjoyed a while back with oat groats, brussels and chestnuts.

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janet @ the taste space January 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Look scrumptious, Gena.. I was planning on using my leeks to make your white bean and leek salad but this one is tugging at my heart! I recently discovered kamut, which is similar but bigger than farro. Delicious, too. :)

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Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian January 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I love recipes that incorporate roasted brussel sprouts, and I’m always looking for more excuses to eat them. Never tried farro before, but with the protein content, it sounds like one that would be good for my diet.

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hannah January 10, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Interesting… I always thought farro and spelt were the same thing. I had balsamic roasted sprouts this evening! They were amazing so I’d love to try your version xx

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Lindsey @ Pas de Deux January 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

Thanks for the “history lesson”! Lately I’m really loving learning more about how foods are grown, where they come from, etc. This sounds delicious – I can’t wait to try it!

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Christine (The Raw Project) January 11, 2013 at 9:25 am

Now I really need to try farro, adding to my Whole Foods list now! This looks wonderful! Very interesting post.

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Airbourne January 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for sharing this healthy recipe. It is good to incorporate a healthy diet of whole grains that are packed with fiber. They are healthy and also very delicious. Instead of eating junk foods each day that are harmful to the body, we should all be consuming foods that are good for us.

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Karen January 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Love this genius combination – farro, leeks and roasted brussels. I always forget how wonderful – subtle, delicate, pretty – leeks are and don’t use them in my everyday cooking often enough. Thanks too for the primer on farro – I usually soak farro b/c the brand I buy is whole (not pearled) grains.

Hope you have a nice weekend, Gena. xo

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Tanya @ Playful and Hungry January 12, 2013 at 8:22 am

Perfect dish for winter…

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