Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 5

Farro is a hearty grain that played a significant part of the daily diet in ancient Rome. Some say farro is the original ancestor of thousands of other wheat species — making it “the mother of all wheat.” In ancient Rome, farro was eaten regularly by the Roman legions, and it was even used as a form of currency. Today this heirloom grain is still highly regarded in Italy, where it has been grown for generations and featured in many traditional dishes.[1]

Farro is commonly used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and still grown in Italy. They are:  farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (also known as emmer, the Hebrew word for mother), and farro grande (spelt). Grains of wild einkorn have been found in Epi-Paleolithic sites of the Fertile Crescent, and can be found in some health food stores today. Emmer, the most common variety found in Italy, is grown in Tuscany. Spelt is commonly grown in Germany and Switzerland and is eaten and used in much the same way. [2][3]

Farro has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, and resembles barley. It is high in protein and low in calories. It is an excellent form of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamin B3, zinc, magnesium, and iron, and it contains antioxidents. Unfortunately, it does contain gluten, but farro easy to digest. It’s rich in the cyanogenic glucosides, which will stimulate the immune system, regulate blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol. [4]

This is how you cook farro.

(YouTube link) Not an endorsement. There are cheaper brands.

If you watch more videos on farro, you'll notice that there are different ways to cook it. Just as with rice, you can cook it with chicken broth or vegetable broth, giving it more flavor. You can also presoak it, or gently toast the grains in oil or butter, then add the liquid to cook. I've also noticed that cooks use different amounts of water to cook the farro in, but I suspect they want a different end result.

Farro is used by a lot of cooks in salads, as you will see in this Farro and Grape Salad recipe.

(YouTube link) (Start at 1:16)

Food Network Farro Recipes

Related Posts
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 1
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 2 (Quinoa)
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 3 (Bulgur)
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 4 (Freekah)

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