Farro is my favorite grain. It dates to the ancient world, appearing first in the fertile crescent and then spreading throughout the Mediterranean. The word “farro” is Italian and is a generic term that means “ancient wheat grain.”
There are three types of farro: 1. Spelt — farro grande, known scientifically as Triticum spelta; 2. Emmer: farro medio or Triticum dicoccum; 3. Einkorn: farro piccolo or Triticum monococcum. The most common variety sold in the U.S. is Emmer, and is the type I used most often.
Farro is super nutritious per quarter cup serving (dried): 6g of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrates plus niacin, magnesium, zinc, iron, all for 170 calories. It’s a valuable part of any diet, however, it contains gluten, so is not suitable for celiac disease patients or those with a gluten allergy. The phrase “gluten intolerance” is kind of a tough one to parse out. It has no definitive scientific meaning, though more and more people are diagnosed with it, usually after allergy and celiac’s are ruled out but symptoms linked to gluten consumption persist.
There are some studies suggesting that whole grains such as farro are more digestible than modern refined wheat products made from milled flour. If you have trouble with white bread and pasta, farro may not be your enemy. Trouble is there’s only one way to find out, and you may not want to take that risk.
One of my favorite recipes requiring only one pot, a handful of ingredients and less than an hour of my attention is Deb Perelman’s Farro with Tomatoes. It is awesomely delicious and vegan if you want it to be. I like to add feta or parmesan, but these can be omitted or replaced with a vegan alternative to increase the protein content. Try toasted pine nuts or white beans. They work!
Inspired by Deb, I changed this up a bit one night using other ingredients I had on hand, but the method is essentially the same, using one pot.
One pot farro with yellow beets and fresh chile
- 1 cup farro.
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic.
- 1/2 white onion, diced.
- 1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken).
- 1 cup water.
- 1/2 cup white wine.
- 1 yellow beet, shredded on a box grater or in a food processor fitted with a shredding disk.
- 1 red chile pepper (fresno or serrano), seeds and ribs remove, minced.
- juice from half a lemon.
Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until desired texture is achieved. I like bit of chew from my farro, but you might like it softer. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over finished dish and serve.