Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GRAINularity: Farro

When I was studying abroad in Florence during college, I learned about this grain called Farro that Italians love to cook with, especially for breakfast! You’ve heard about it on the news, and possibly in a few New York Times articles, as it is now one of the new hot grains. But is it a healthy choice?

Why have you done a good thing?

Farro is popular amongst our Mediterranean friends for a reason; farro is a great whole grain, nutty tasting choice. Rich in huge amount of fiber and protein per serving, this is a nutrient dense grain. Farro is also loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and betain, which can reduce inflammation, reducing risk for chronic diseases like heart disease. Also, many gluten intolerant individuals can still tolerate farro (although it is not advised for celiac patients). Found in whole form or milled in pastas, farro can be a complete part of any meal!

Try Farro for breakfast instead of oatmeal just like the Italians do! (serves 1)

1/2 cup whole grain farro

2 cup water

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

½ cup apple

¼ cup walnuts

Boil water and add farro to boiling water until absorbed and al dente, this takes about 45 minutes. Add cinnamon, fruit, honey and walnuts and enjoy!

**Note: for faster cooking farro in the morning, purchase cracked farro for speedier cooking. Or cook in big batches at night when you have time and portion it out and microwave to warm up in the morning.

Farro Risotto (serves 4-6)

4 cups low sodium chicken stock + 2 cup water

1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp and 1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

6 oz dry white wine, like pinot grigio

1 cup farro

1 package of mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper

½ cup grated parmesan cheese.

To a large saucepan, gently warm stock and water until simmering. Keep covered to prevent evaporation. In a sauté pan, sauté mushrooms in 1 tsp olive oil. In a separate saucepan, melt butter with 1 tbsp olive oil and cook onion until translucent. Add wine and cook until mostly reduced. Add farro and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. When stock/water is simmering, add 1 ladle full at a time to farro, stirring constantly until all stock is absorbed and farro is al dente. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper, cheese and serve.

**Don’t like mushrooms? Farro risotto can be made with any veggies you like: butternut squash, asparagus, the possibilities are endless.

Other ideas:

Combine farro with beans or legumes for a complete vegetarian meal.

Mix with pestos or salad dressings and veggies for a cold grain salad.

Make a whole grain pasta dinner with farro based pastas.

Mix farro into soups and stews.

Check out these recipes from FoodNetwork.com to give you more ideas:

Where can I purchase farro?

You can purchase farro or farro based pastas at Whole Foods Market or speciality Italian markets. Prego!

--Amy Santo, MS RD

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