I only cook farro when I’m making my recipe for Pastiera Napoletana, a dish I usually make at Easter. We’re slowly trying to add healthier foods to our diet, and farro is at the top of our list.
Farro has a rich nutty flavor. It’s high in fiber, rich in minerals and B vitamins, and can perhaps boost your immune system. It’s also a staple in Italian cooking (read more about farro). I’ve shied away from cooking farro. I thought it required a lengthy soaking period in order to soften up the wheat, something that’s needed if I use dried instead of canned farro when making Pastiera Napoletana. I love slow food, but during the work week, I want that 30 minute meal. I usually make foods that take longer to prepare on the weekends. Some weekends I’m lazy or busy and nothing gets done. Most weekends, I cook. Everything is ready-made or at least easier to prepare at the end of a long work day. While exploring many ancient grains, I learned that dried pearled farro can be cooked and eaten in under 30 minutes.
Here are a few things about farro that you might find interesting:
- Farro is one of the ancient grains along with barley and wheat berries that’s now popular in the United States.
- In modern Italy, farro is a rustic grain that’s often used in soups and meals as a replacement for rice and pasta.
- At weddings in ancient Rome, a cake made of farro was offered to Jupiter to ensure a long happy marriage.
- Farro is also said to be the grain of the Roman soldiers, who spread it throughout the Roman empire; the Latin word farina (a somewhat generic term for flour, which appears in Italian as farina and in Spanish as harina) comes from far, the Latin word for farro or spelt (the traditional English name).
- Because of its nutty texture, farro can be cooked and eaten as a breakfast cereal, used in soups, as a replacement for other grains, or in salads.
My recipe for Mediterranean Farro Salad is quick and easy. I don’t soak the farro at all, but instead I add the farro to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. I drain the farro and let it cool to room temperature before I add the other ingredients. While farro is cooling, I toast the pine nuts and prepare the remaining ingredients: sun-dried tomatoes, Greek Kalamata olives, fresh organic arugula, and minced garlic. When the farro is at room temperature, I add the prepared ingredients and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s ready to eat, or it can be refrigerated first and served cold. A bit of shaved Parmesan is a nice touch, too.
Mediterranean Farro Salad Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups organic farro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes
- 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cups arugula
- 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- dash or two of pepper
In a medium sauce pot, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add teaspoon of salt and farro; boil until farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
In a large frying pan, spread nuts in one layer. Toast pine nuts over medium heat until the nuts are toasty and golden brown. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Adjust olive oil, salt and pepper as desired.