Farro - Emmer
farro is the common name given to several species of the genus Triticum, also known as "dressed grains" because the caryopsis are enveloped by the glumes and the husk. The grain requires a further "hulling" process through which the seeds are then separated from the chaff.
The first Triticum specie to be cultivated was T. monococcum. Its Latin name derives from the fact that its spikelets have very low fertility, producing no more than one grain. In the past, spontaneous crossings between T. monococcum and other wild species occurred and from these crossings a new species arises, T. dicoccum, with spikelets containing two kernels. Therefore, this newer offspring proved to be more productive than T. monococcum and for centuries, it has been the dominant grain in the Mediterranean region, until it was replaced by a new one, T. durum, the common durum wheat we use today for pasta. Unlike farro, T. durum has a much higher productivity rate and it is easier to free the seed from the husk: ginning is easy and grains don’t require any further “hulling” processes. Currently, Triticum dicoccum is the most widespread in Italy. Thanks to its rusticity and tolerance to pests and climatic excesses, it can be cultivated up to 1000 meters above sea level. Due to these and other aspects – such as its nutritional value, taste, historical and cultural significance – the market has taken a zealous interest in this “re-discovered” grain.
MAIA offers two types of farro: hulled farro and pearled farro.
Through a "hulling" process, the husks of hulled farro are taken away, but the seed remains intact. In this way, the seed keeps all of its nutritional value including fiber, minerals and B vitamins.
Pearled farro is processed even further to remove the outer part of the kernel, this makes it more digestible and easier to cook. Infact, they don’t require soaking prior to cooking.
farro is rich in B vitamins, fiber and mineral salts, yet has a very low fat content. An interesting feature is its antioxidant power. This is due to the high content of selenium and phytic acid. These two elements inhibit the formation of free radicals, which are responsible for various degenerative diseases. These grains absorb a significant amount of water while cooking – almost 2.5 times its own weight – resulting in a high satiety index, so they are recommended for low-calorie diets. They are also excellent for people with cholesterol problems and diabetes. Thanks to a balanced dose of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, the simple sugars are slowly absorbed in the intestine.
farro, while containing a significant amount of protein, is low in essential amino acids, particularly lysine. This deficiency can easily be remedied by using legumes to accompany the farro, resulting in delicious, low-calorie main dishes.
How to Use Them
farro has a very neutral flavour that goes well with any recipe, cold or hot. It is recommended for quiches, soups, and savory pastries and pies.
Basic recipe: after thoroughly cleaning and washing the grains, the hulled farro needs to soak for 4 hours and then cook for at least 45 minutes, while pearled farro need 45 minutes to cook and don’t need to soak them prior to cooking.
Savoury farro quiche
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 350 g of pearled farro, 60 g of porcini mushrooms, 1 onion, 120 g of Fontina cheese, vegetable broth, extra-virgin olive oil, salt.
Cooking Instructions: finely chop the onion and sautee it in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Chop the mushrooms and add along with the farro to the pan. Let the farro toast for a bit and then begin to add the vegetable broth, a ladle at a time until the fully cooked. Add a bit of salt and take the pan off from the flame. Cut the cheese into pieces and stir it into the mixture until the cheese is completely melted. Cover a round spring-form with wax paper and pour the contents into the form. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes and turn over the quiche before serving it.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 120 g of hulled farro, 200 g of ground meat, 200 ml of milk, 50 g of butter, 1 sausage, 2 eggs, parsley, 2 spoons of grated cheese, 2 spoons of dried breadcrumbs, 2 cloves of garlic, soft breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the farro according to the basic recipe, drain and set aside. Sautee the butter in a pan and add the dried breadcrumbs, browning them. Meanwhile in a bowl, add the farro, the ground meat, the mashed sausage, the eggs, the grated cheese, the finely chopped garlic and parsley, and the soft breadcrumbs – which need to previously be soaked in the milk and then squeezed. Add a bit of salt and mix everything together until it is smooth. Add the butter and breadcrumbs and stir once more all together. Grease a plum cake pan with butter and pour the mixture into the pan. Put it in the pre-heated oven for about an hour at 180°C.
After it cools a bit, transfer it to a plate and serve it in slices, accompanied with a legume or vegetable quiche.
farro with arugula, honey, pear, and gorgonzola
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g of hulled farro, 1 bunch of arugula, 2 firm pears, 1 teaspoon of honey, 60 g of spicy Gorgonzola, 1 spoon of white wine vinegar, 4 spoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 4-5 kernels of chopped walnuts, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: cook the farro in an abundant amount of salted water, drain it, let it cool and transfer it into a large bowl. Mix the oil with the vinegar, honey, a pinch of salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Wash the arugula, dry it well and chop it. Cut the cheese into small pieces. Wash the pears without peeling them, dry them, cut them into wedges, remove the core and then cut them into thin slices. Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Dress it all with the honey sauce, add the crushed walnuts on top and serve.
pearled farro with artichoke sauce
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g pearled farro, 1 onion, tomato sauce or 10 cherry tomatoes, 70 g of artichoke hearts, 70 g black olives, 1 clove of garlic, salt and pepper, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: cook the farro in a large amount of salted water, drain it, let it cool and transfer it into a large salad bowl. Chop the onion in strips and sautee it in olive oil. Add the peeled tomatoes or tomato sauce. Stir it and when it begins to boil, sprinkle in a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut the artichoke hearts in thin strips and add them to the pan, along with the pitted olives, and the garlic clove. Cook over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes. Once the sauce is ready, add the farro and serve immediately.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 200 g pearled farro, 2 sausages, 100 g borlotti beans, 5-6 walnuts, 4 red sweet peppers, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: cook the farro in an abundant amount of salted water, drain it, let it cool and transfer it into a large bowl. Cook the beans separately. Chop the sausages and cook them in a pan. Once all of the ingredients are ready, mix the sausages with the farro, beans, and nuts, and add a dash of salt and pepper. Wash the peppers, and cut off the top – around the stem – in order to create a "hat". Empty them and salt them. Finally, fill the peppers the farro and bean mixture, and close them with their hats. Place the stuffed peppers in a high-sided backing pan. Put a little oil at the base of the pan and about two fingers of water. Cover with a sheet of aluminium foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Stewed farro, rice and beans
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 100 g brown rice, 200 g hulled farro, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 150 g dried beans, 60 g diced bacon, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 bay leaf, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 stalk of celery, 1 bunch of parsley, 2 sage leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 peeled and chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: put the beans that have been previously soaked (8 hours) in a pot, and add diced celery and carrot, 1 clove garlic, the bay leaf, a bit of rosemary, and 1 sage leaf. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil, then let cook for about half an hour. Add the hulled farro and brown rice and continue cooking for another 40 minutes, adding salt at the end. Meanwhile, slice the onion and sautee it in a pan with oil, bacon and some crushed garlic. Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and after 4-5 minutes, add the drained beans and the farro and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer all of the ingredients in a bowl, and sprinkle with chopped parsley, sage, rosemary, and serve.
farro with octopus and green beans
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g pearled farro, at least 1 kg octopus, 150 g green beans, 1 onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1 clove of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 dl of olive oil, chopped chili pepper, 1 small bunch of chives, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: clean the octopus, put it in a pot, add ½ chopped onion, ½ celery stick, 1 bay leaf, cover with an abundant amount of water, add salt and cook over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the octopus from the flame and let it cool in its water. Once cool, drain and remove its skin then cut it into pieces. Cook the farro in the water that is now flavoured with celery, onion, bay leaf and garlic. Clean the green beans, cut them into small pieces, and steam them in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes. Mix the olive oil with salt, pepper, chili pepper and the chopped chives. Transfer the farro into a serving dish, and add the octopus, the beans and the sauce. Serve warm.