Farro is a whole grain, much like other whole grains such as barley, quinoa and wheat berries.
While farro is actually a specific type of common wheat, a few different varieties of wheat are sometimes called farro. Each of these different types of farro, however, is a kind of wheat, so while farro is a whole grain, it is, never gluten-free.
Farro looks quite a bit like a more oblong and larger barley grain and has a similar taste and texture.
Like barley, farro is still a bit chewy when cooked, rather than soft and mushy. If you're used to eating rice, you may find this texture a bit odd, but I personally quite like the chewiness of both farro and barley, and find they can be used interchangeably in any recipe.
Like quinoa, kaniwa and freekeh, farro is a so-called "ancient grain", which means that it's been around for generations, though it has recently surged in popularity. Farro comes in whole grain, semi-pearled and pearled variety, though, in grocery stores in the United States, the most common farro is pearled.
Shopping for Farro
In the United States, farro is nearly always sold pearled, which means it needs less cooking time than whole unpearled farro, or semi-pearled farro, which is more common in Italy. Look for farro in the bulk foods section of well-stocked natural grocers and health food stores.
Can't find farro in the bulk foods section? Bob's Red Mill also carries packaged farro, which some grocers stock either along with other whole grains, in the baking section, or occasionally with other whole grain breakfast cereals.
Nutritional Value of Farro
Farro gets an A+ nutritional rating! It's nearly fat-free and completely cholesterol-free, making it a heart-healthy choice and perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
Farro is a great source of iron and is very high in fiber.
One-fourth (1/4) cup uncooked farro contains:
Calories from Fat: 15
Total Fat: 1.50 g, 2%
Saturated Fat: 0g,0 %
Trans Fat: 0 g, 0%
Cholesterol: 0 mg, 0%
Sodium:0 mg, 0%
Potassium: 0 mg, 0%
Total Carbohydrate: 37 g, 12%
Dietary Fiber: 7 g, 28%
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 7 g, 14 %
Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 0%, Calcium: 2%, Iron: 10%
How to Cook Farro
Like other whole grains, farro is super easy to cook stove-top, though you may prefer to cook it in a rice cooker or even a pressure cooker for convenience
Most people recommend soaking farro overnight to shorten the cooking time. I find it's useful to soak farro for however long you can, whether it's 30 minutes, an hour or overnight. Cook farro in a 1:2.5 or 1:3 ratio. That is, for each cup of dry farro, you'll want to add two and a half cups or even three cups of water or vegetable broth.
Here's how to cook farro stovetop:
Bring 2 1/2 cups or three cups of water to a boil stovetop. Add farro, cover, and allow to simmer.
If you've soaked your farro overnight, it'll be "al dente" in about 10-15 minutes. If you haven't soaked your farro, you'll want to start checking for doneness after about 25-30 minutes.
Even more whole grains you'll want to try
- Teff - the tiny grain from Africa!
- Kaniwa - sounds like quinoa, but it's not
- Freekeh - the grain with a funny name
- Quinoa - The most popular of all
- Buckwheat - Gluten-free and great for beer!