Farro, a form of wheat that has its’ husk intact, is making a splash in the United States. A grain that is traditionally eaten in Tuscany, Abruzzo and Lazio, Farro may just be the new orzo, another grain from Italy that has become a mainstay on many menus.
Farro is arguably more rustic than orzo. It is darker in color and has a delicious nutty and firm flavor. Tuscans use farro for soups, as an alternative to pasta or as a side dish. Much whole wheat pasta is made from farro as are many desserts. Farro can also be used in salads instead of other grains such as quinoa.
Farro is also extremely easy to make and is generally cooked in the same way that you would make rice or orzo. It is supposed to be chewier than rice so it can be cooked for a shorter period of time. In it’s easiest form, it is delicious with some fresh tomato sauce, basil and pepperoncino (macerated red pepper).
Farro is an ancient grain which first came to light in the Middle East. From there, it spread to Italy where it has been grown for centuries. It is somewhat harder to grow than other forms of wheat and therefore has been less popular in other areas of the world.
In Italy, you can generally find farro both in the main supermarkets and in health food stores. Farro is considered to confer healthy benefits and has very low cholesterol. In the United States, you can find farro is some high end Italian grocery stores or online at a variety of websites.
It is unlikely that we will see farro on every menu any time soon which is too bad because the nutty flavors go very well with fall meats, wines and vegetables. A healthy soup of farro and legumes is perfect for a cool fall evening with a glass of sangiovese. While one doesn’t want summer to end, farro reminds me there are some lovely fall foods and farro is one of them.