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.
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,