Did you know that there are three types of farro?First things first—do you know what farro is?
Farro is hulled wheat. Wheat is either free-threshing, which means the outer sheath is soft and easy to remove. Hulled wheat normally includes wild wheat and other ‘ancient grains’.
Evolutionally, hulled wheat is spread by being ingested by birds, digested, which removes most of the husks, then expelled far and wide, which then grow, and the cycle starts all over again. Unlike civet cat coffee beans, which are culled from the droppings and used as is, the evacuated farro only acts as a seed.
Farro is very similar to barley in both taste and texture. It’s chewy and nutty. Or, if you cook it a little less, it will be lightly crunchy and nutty. I prefer softer, because then it’s as comforting as a new pair of flannel pajamas after a warm bath.
And many fans of old school hot cereal have unknowingly eaten bowls of farro in the form of ‘Cream of Farina’. My mom’s a big fan; growing up, there was always a box in our pantry. Now, about the varied types.
In Italy, there are three types of farro. Farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande. They are actually three distinct types of wheat; triticum monococcum, triticum dicoccum, and triticum spelta.
In America, for the most part, farro is farro—sort of. The largest grain; the triticum spelta, is not sold as farro, but labeled and sold as spelt. So, all spelt is farro, but not all farro is spelt.To cook farro, I rinse it under cold running water first. Then I put it in a saucepan using a ratio of one part farro to three parts liquid, either water or stock. I add a glug of olive oil, a big pinch of kosher salt and a little pinch of freshly cracked black pepper.
I bring it to a boil, reduce heat to a high-ish medium low (4 on a ten-point burner), cover, and cook it 30-45 minutes or until it’s tender, and the liquid is completely absorbed. I take it off the heat, leave it covered and let it sit for ten minutes or so.
Then you can dress it as you would rice, or any another grain. Lately, I’ve been digging my spinach-avocado pesto with it.
Spinach-avocado pesto3 ½ cups raw baby spinach
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 green onions, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 cup water (approx.)
¼ cup Chinese or regular chives chopped
Microwave spinach for until completely wilted. Rough chop, and place into food processor.
When the farro has about five more minutes of sitting time, make the sauce.
Add the avocado meat, green onions, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Process, adding enough water until it becomes sauce consistency.
Pour sauce over farro and gently stir to coat. Plate and sprinkle top with chives.
Serves 2-4 depending on side dishes and appetites.
I also like the idea of rendering some bacon or pancetta, and using some of the pork fat to sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic. Then I mix everything into a fresh pot of farro. It can be used in the place of barley in recipes.You can also turn this into hot cereal. Make the farro with skim milk or soy or almond milk, and instead of salt, pepper, and olive oil, use a small pinch of salt, a couple teaspoons of vanilla, and some nutmeg. Then dress each bowl with honey or maple syrup, and some fresh or dried fruits and maybe some nuts.
You can buy this pre-packaged, but that’s the expensive option. I like to buy it in bulk. It’s cheaper that way, and you only buy as much as you need. For a first-timer, it’s an easy way to get just enough to try it.
Farro is kind of a split personality food. It’s a comfort food that’s super trendy right now. It’s as if Aunt Bee dyed her hair pink and became a barista.Thanks for your time.