Super Food: Farro

I thought February would be a fun month to highlight the fabulous but forgotten grain, farro. Unfamiliar to many, this ancient grain has been cultivated in the human diet for over 9000 years. And now it is making a comeback in our diet! This rise in popularity is a reoccurring trend similar to other ancient grains like Quinoa. What is interesting about farro is that it is actually an umbrella term that is commonly used to refer to three ancient wheat varieties originally grown in the Fertile Crescent (a region in the Middle East): Triticum monococcum (einkorn), T. dicoccon (emmer) and T. spelta (spelt). In Italy and other European countries, farro has re-popularized in the past few decades. Emmer is the most common form in Italy and is referred to as “true farro”. In Switzerland and Germany, the prevailing farro species is spelt. Another reason why it as exploded in the agriculture industry is its heavy hulled grain structure that gives it an advantage to surviving environmental challenges such as insect infestation. The crop is also very adaptable to poor quality soil and weed growth lending the ability to flourish in organic cultivations with minimal application of fertilizers and pesticides. Recently this ancient grain and caught the attention of cooks in the United States and Canada.

Farro has a nutty earthy flavor with a satisfying chew. Mainly known by its Italian roots, this grain has a flavorful and seductive nature…a perfect ingredient to cook up into your Valentines Day menu! Choose an enticing Italian dish like Verdurata di Farro- a fulfilling dish with vegetables, greens, and farro.

We used Farro in a soup with Kale Soup for this month’s newsletter recipe.

Why is it healthy?

Farro is good source of magnesium, zinc, iron and B vitamins. It has a higher protein content compared to many other grains, with 7g of protein per ¼ cup dry. Regular white rice only has 3g, buglur has 5g, and it even edges out the super grain quinoa that contains 6g of protein per ¼ dry (which is still very high protein!). Whole grain farro is also of course a good source of dietary fibre (3g per ¼ dry) beneficial for maintaining a healthy gut and digestive system, keeping you full after a meal, and maintaining an even blood sugar levels.

Including Farro in your diet-

How to Prepare Farro:
When buying the unprocessed whole grain variety of farro it is an important step to soak overnight to soften the grain so it cooks up into the appropriate texture. This variety has higher amounts of micronutrients. You can also get pearled or semi-pearled farro to decrease cooking time. Cook up farro in a 2:1 ration of liquid to dry grain. Cooking time generally will take between 25-40 minutes depending on the degree to which the grain has been processed.
Breakfast Ideas:

  • Slow cooker farro porridge (Coconut farro with blueberries and Greek yogurt)
  • Apple farro muffins
  • Yogurt, farro and fruit breakfast
  • Simple farro and buttermilk porridge
  • Savory farro with poached eggs

Lunch and Supper Ideas:

  • Traditional Italian farro soup
  • Kale and Farro soup feature in our Newsletter this month*
  • Creamy Farro risotto or pilaf with collard greens
  • Roasted broccoli, farro and feta salad
  • Farro stuffed Portobello mushrooms or zucchini boats
  • Chicken farro veggie bowl recipe

Did you know that…
Although this grain does contain gluten, the gluten proteins in farro are relatively weak compared to regular wheat. This means people with gluten sensitivities may better tolerate farro! However, those with celiac disease and wheat allergies should still avoid this ancient grain.