Farro is an amazingly chewy, delicious ancient grain with a nutty flavor. Similar to barley or brown rice but heavier with a chewy texture, cooking farro is very similar to cooking pasta or rice. So don't be frightened of this new yet ancient grain when you learn how to cook farro.
Originated in either the Middle East or Western Asia, it's possibly the oldest grain in the world. Popular in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Italian cooking for many years, it's just gaining traction in American cooking. Americans are turning to whole grains to help us with our carbohydrate addiction.
Farro is high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. There's no cholesterol and has minimal fat. It does have gluten but in low amounts. So if your gluten intolerance is a low level, you may still be able to have farro. Sounds pretty good so far, right?
How Do You Cook Farro?
Think about a 1 to 3 ratio, 1 cup of farro to 3 cups of water or vegetable or chicken broth. One cup of dried farro will make about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of cooked farro.
Pro tip: You can toast the farro in a pot over medium heat for a more intense nutty flavor. Stir it frequently to keep it from burning. Do this as a first step before adding any water.
Soaking farro helps to shorten the cooking time as well as rinse away the dry powdery coating the grains have. Another reason foodies love farro is that farro won't get mushy even if you forget it on the stove. But never let the water evaporate or the grains will burn.
Different Types of Farro
There are three different kinds of farro. Piccolo (einkorn), medio (emmer), and grande (spelt). The cooking method is the same for whichever farro you have but the cooking time will vary.
There are also three different types of farro that you can buy at the grocery store.
Whole-grain farro contains the entire husk and bran and has the most nutrients and strongest flavor. It takes about 30-40 minutes total time to cook.
Semi-pearled farro has no husk and part of the bran is polished away. It's milder in flavor and less nutritious than whole grain. Semi-pearled farro takes about 25-30 minutes to cook on your stovetop.
Pearled farro is the most common type of farro. There's no husk and all of the bran is polished away leaving it with fewer nutrients and a milder flavor. It's popular for its fast prep time of only 15-20 minutes. Bob's Red Mill is the brand most stores stock.
How To Use Farro
Farro can be used in place of quinoa or barley in recipes. Add it beef up a stew, salad or make a creamy risotto using farro instead of rice.
You can also give your Instant Pot, rice cooker, pressure cooker some action with cooking farro. For pearled farro, combine 1 cup farro, 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in the bowl of your Instant Pot. Cover and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid and fluff with a fork.
To make on the stovetop, it's very similar to any basic pasta method. Add the farro, salt, and any aromatics like bay leaf, fresh herbs, or garlic to a large pot of boiling water. You could also use broth for your liquid for even more flavor.
Simmer until the farro is tender and chewy or al dente. Approximate cook times are 15-20 minutes for pearled farro, 25-30 minutes for semi-pearled farro, or 35-40 minutes for whole farro.
Drain the farro completely through a fine-mesh strainer. Fluff with a fork. Season with extra salt, olive oil, fresh herbs, parmesan, or feta cheese. Serve grilled veggies on a bed of farro to make a farro salad.
You can also freeze cooked farro to have ready as a side dish or in farro recipes. to keep the grains separated, freeze them spread out on a baking sheet. Then store the frozen farro in a ziplock bag. This keeps the farro from becoming one big frozen blob.
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