At this point, many of us have embraced whole grains, become friendly with brown rice, maybe even casual acquaintances with quinoa. But there still are a number of grains out there that remain a mystery. Farro may well be one of them. I had enjoyed it in restaurants a couple times. A lot, in fact. It is chewy and hearty and nutty and really delicious. But I hadn’t cooked it at home. Time to overcome farro-phobia.
Recipe: Ditch rice and go with a new grain for better stuffed peppers
Give almost any recipe a nutritional boost with quinoa
Nutty, creamy and a fine rice alternative: Get to know farro
Farro is a wheat grain popular throughout the Mediterranean. Italy is the capital of farro consumption; in fact, it was the main grain of ancient Rome. When you really dig into the world of farro, you’ll find there actually are three species of farro, but the emmer variety is the one that is most commonly available.
When shopping, make sure you buy the semi-pearled variety, which cooks much faster and allows you to skip the overnight soaking step. Not all packaging is very clear about this, so make sure to read the cooking instructions on the farro you buy to see if this step is necessary. Most brands that are commonly available in mainstream grocers are semi-pearled.
Farro is great in soups, salads and as a substitute for short-grained rice in risotto-like dishes (often called farrotto). Here it is used as the base of a vegetable-studded side dish. You can change up the vegetables however you see fit, and if a grill isn’t handy go ahead and roast them in the oven.
FARRO WITH GRILLED BROCCOLI AND SWEET ONIONS
You will get about 3 nice planks from a 10-ounce head of broccoli, and then there will be some loose florets from the sides, which you also should grill. If you have one, use a grill rack so the smaller pieces don’t fall into the fire.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 cup semi-pearled farro1 tablespoon butter1 teaspoon minced garlic3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable brothKosher salt and ground black pepper1 head broccoli (about 10 ounces), trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch thick slabs1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thickly sliced1 tablespoon olive oilHeat the grill to medium.
Heat a heavy saucepan over medium-high. Add the farro and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, or until the grains are lightly toasted. Add the butter and garlic and saute for 2 more minutes so that the butter melts and the grains are well coated, and you can smell the garlic. Add the broth, season with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth has been absorbed and the farro is cooked through, but still has a nice chewy consistency, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the broccoli and onion with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning as the bottoms brown, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are browned and tender. Remove the vegetables from the grill, let cool slightly, then roughly chop.
Once the farro is cooked, stir in the chopped grilled vegetables and serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 50 calories from fat (26 per cent of total calories); 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 150 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 7 g protein.