Get to know your Grains: Farro

Farro has a long and glorious history: it is the original grain from which all others derive, and fed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations for thousands of years. In the centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire, higher-yielding grains were developed and farro’s cultivation dwindled: By the turn of the century in Italy there were a few hundreds of acres of fields scattered over the regions of Lazio, Umbria, the Marches and Tuscany.

Farro would probably still be an extremely local specialty had the farmers of the French Haute Savoie not begun to supply it to elegant restaurants that used it in hearty vegetable soups and other dishes. Their success sparked renewed interest in farro among gastronomes, and now the grain is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in Italy as well, especially among trendy health-conscious cooks.

How to use: Farro has a tan color, oval shape and chewy, dense and nutty flavor. Use it in the same way you would use rice or another whole grain.

How to Cook Farro: For 1 cup Farro, add about 2 and 1/2 cups salted water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the grain with a closed lid for another 15-30 minutes until tender.

Here are some recipes to get you started using the flavorful and hearty grain.