I’ve been getting questions about farro ever since we cooked it in Season 2, Episode 211. This delicious, nutty, crunchy grain is now appearing on restaurant menus all over the country and is finally pretty easy to find in supermarkets as well. Farro can be any of three ancient species of whole grain wheat that originated in the Middle East and travelled to Italy thousands of years ago. In the marketplace, you might find einkorn (Triticum monococcum) also called little farro or farro piccolo, emmer (Triticum dicoccum) also known as medium farro or farro medio, and spelt (Triticum spelta) which is often labeled large farro or farro grande. All are less evolved than the today’s wheat. They do contain gluten but are high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Farro is delicious in salads, soups, stews, and as an alternate to rice, polenta, or potatoes. When cooking farro, it is essential to read the package directions well ahead of your planned serving time as soaking instructions and cooking time can vary greatly. Each of the three species cooks a bit differently and in addition, the way the grain has been processed makes a big difference. Farro is available just hulled, semi-pearled, or pearled. The package should tell you which type of the grain it is and if it has had part or all of the outer shell removed. It can be cooked ahead, refrigerated several hours or overnight, and added to a dish with no effect to the flavor or crunch.