Farro: A Guide To The Ancient Grain; 5 Ways To Cook With It
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When you think of ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans – and what they possibly ate as part of a staple diet, farro – a tough-husked, pest-resistant crop with a high nutritional value, comes to mind. Known for its ability to thrive in different environments, farro is broadly categorised into emmer and spelt – both of which belong to the wheat family. Believed to be one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat, emmer farro and spelt farro are closely related to modern wheat but with a different genetic structure. A crucial part of diets in ancient times due to its high nutritional value, farro has made a comeback, gaining popularity again as a whole grain with a nutty flavour, chewy texture and low glycaemic index.

Most often used in preparations like salads, soups, pilafs and as a substitute for rice or pasta at times, its resurgence in modern cuisine has a lot to do with the grain being a good source of fibre, protein and essential nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins. Faroo’s well-rounded nutritional profile supports overall health, according to studies that suggest the whole grain being a great source of both, soluble and insoluble fibres, essential for digestive health. It’s pleasantly nutty flavour and high protein value makes it an ideal source of plant-based protein for vegetarians and vegans.

Although not gluten-free, farro has a low glycaemic index, thereby having a slower impact on blood sugar levels. Processed at three different levels where the grain is either left whole, semi-pearled – where small scores are created on the surface of the bran and pearled grains – meant to have the shortest cooking time and the softest texture once cooked, due to being devoid of an outer layer of bran. For those unfamiliar with incorporating farro into one’s diet, it’s essential to note that preparing it properly by soaking or cooking it to reduce its natural phytic acid content, can aid in better nutrient absorption. The magnesium-rich grain can be cooked the same way as one tends to boil pasta, only for a slightly longer duration. Here are five delicious ways to cook and enjoy this whole grain more often:

Image Credits: Mount Hope Wholesale

Mushroom Farro Soup

A light preparation of umami-rich mushrooms cooked in a light broth with pearled farro, this wholesome and comforting soup is a plant-based, vegan recipe that can be easily thrown together for a weeknight supper. Add lots of winter vegetables like carrots, turnips and peas for colour, flavour and additional nutrient-density.

Crispy Farro Chicken Salad

Air-fried, partially cooked grains of farro tossed with baby spinach and sliced grilled chicken is a great representation of texture, taste and nutrition in a salad. A hot tip would be to make extra quantities of air fried farro, that you can store in air-tight jars and use across a variety of salads as the carbohydrate component all through the week.

Farro Risotto

Substitute arborio rice in a risotto for a healthier version that utilises cooked farro – with the same flavour pairings as you would typically do for the classic recipe. Whether it is a saffron-parmesan risotto or a tomato and seafood one, the whole grains hold their form through the cooking process, without disintegrating and absorbing all the delicious flavours.

Also Read:

The Gradual Rise And Use Of Ancient Grains

Farro Pilaf

Image Credits: Bravabod

A wholesome side dish that is the equivalent of a rice-based pulao, the farro pilaf can be cooked with chicken, vegetables or lamb. Pair with a gravy dish of your choice or enjoy with a slow-cooked dal, for a meal that is satisfying and comforting. Save some of the pilaf to enjoy as a packed lunch the following day, when the flavours deepen and intensify further. Add roasted cashews or almonds, corn and raisins for some texture and chew, as well as a pop of colour.

Farro Breakfast Bowl

Switch out your rolled oats for overnight soaked farro that can be steeped in coconut or almond milk and eaten with seasonal cut fruit, dry fruits, a generous helping of seeds and drizzle of honey. Alternately, you could also opt for the savoury route and top off steamed farro with eggs, sauteed mushrooms, spring onions and chopped bacon to make a hearty meal that does not involve any bread.