Farro is an ancient grain with a modern reputation.

Uncooked farro, an ancient--and delicious--grain

Case in point: Several years ago, I managed to get an interview with writer Calvin Trillin, who suggested we meet at Shopshin’s, a quirky diner in the East Village that he profiled in the New Yorker. As we sat down, he proclaimed how much better the food was in this place than in “one of these trendy restaurants that are all serving farro.” As he said the word, he rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.

Having just eaten farro in a trendy restaurant the night before, I smiled but kept my mouth shut. Actually, I understood his point and also knew that he appreciated the grain during a trip to Tuscany. But trendiness had ruined it for him and that I could totally understand. Chefs and restaurateurs who live in the rarefied atmosphere of celebrity often act as if they have invented, so to speak, the wheel. A well-known chef puts farro on a menu and suddenly it’s on all menus everywhere, often in ridiculous dishes (sprinkling a teaspoon of farro over salad greens does not warrant the name “farro salad”). It’s easy to get sick of even your most beloved foods in such a context. It’s one good reason to keep at least a moderate distance from the food-as-entertainment world.

If you’ve been put off farro in this way, think of today’s post as a farro defense. It is delicious, healthy (low in calories, high in both protein and fiber), easy to cook and so very satisfying in cold weather. It is a perfect winter grain (though I enjoy it year round).

A couple of weeks ago, a reader asked where to find farro in Sebastopol. Easy answer: Andy’s Produce (1691 Gravenstein

You can find farro in a long thin package at Andy's Produce in Sebastopol

Highway North). I buy it there all the time. It is also available in markets such as Traverso’s, Oliver’s and such. As always, look at your neighborhood market before driving a distance to find it. If you cannot find farro anywhere near you, there are plenty of mail order options, such as this one, Market Hall Foods.

A couple of years ago, Canvas Ranch grew a small amount of local farro. If they plant it again, I’ll post news of its availability in this blog. In the meantime, you can read about it here.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy farro is to cook it until just tender and squeeze Meyer lemon juice over it while it is still hot. Then I let it cool for about 15 minutes and add a generous splash of Davero Olio Nuovo, a handful of minced Italian parsley and either Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt or Malden Salt Flakes. That’s it. I like it for breakfast and for lunch.

Here are ten more farro recipes, all suited to the season, from the Seasonal Pantry archives.

Farro Soup with White Beans & Lacinato Kale

Just Soup

Farro with Chimichurri

Farro Salad with Lemon, Scallions, Feta & Herbs

Mussels with Farro, Cannellini & Chickpeas

Lamb Shanks with Farro & Black Olives

Kale & Farro Gratin with Gruyere & Brown Butter

Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin, Farro & Chard

Braised Beef Shanks with Farro, Chard & Beet Greens

Wild Mushroom Ragout with Bacon & Farro

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  1. Nicolle

    We had the Farro Salad with Lemon, Scallions, Feta & Herbs at my wedding. People loved it (including me)! It’s healthy and delicious at the same time, and so versatile. I wonder how it’s different from wheat berries.

    December 1st, 2010 1:34 pm

  2. Nicolle

    I need to find a way to grow fresh thyme and oregano indoors during the winter so I can make this dish. I could put chimichurri on just about everything I eat. I think it would be delicious on seared salmon or tuna too.

    December 1st, 2010 1:42 pm

  3. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    Those two herbs should be easy to grow through the winter. They won’t be as big and bushy as in warmer weather but there should be enough to get you through.

    December 1st, 2010 2:00 pm

  4. Judy Barrett

    You shared a meal with Calvin Trillin?!?!?!?! At Shopshin’s?!?!?! OMG, Michele, I will be jealous until the day I die. To ease my anguish, I’ll try to find farro, which I’ve never tried, and make something comforting.
    If you haven’t seen it, you MUST watch “I Like Killing Flies.” Netflix has it both DVD and “instant.”

    December 1st, 2010 6:36 pm

  5. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    Yes, I did indeed share a meal with CT at Shopshin’s, its second location, which I understand was not as quirky as the first. It’s now further downtown, in its third location. I will watch “I Like Killing Flies” tonight. Thanks for the tip!

    December 1st, 2010 6:54 pm

  6. Deborah Walton

    We are indeed growing farro again at Canvas Ranch! We’re trying it this year as an overwintering crop, so it will be available in the early summer. Hoping to expand production if we can find the right equipment to process it at a reasonable cost.

    December 5th, 2010 8:11 am

  7. MicheleAnna.Jordan

    Deborah, what great news! Thanks for posting the information.

    December 5th, 2010 11:08 am

  8. Anne Biedel

    I had a great farro salad recently. It used the farro, fresh corn off the cob, diced red onion, diced tomatoes and edamame. It was dressed with a light oil and seasoned rice vinegar. Pretty and flavorful.

    December 6th, 2011 3:54 pm

  9. Sahdow

    Funny how I’d end up at my home town paper when trying to learn more about Farro; thought I’d share that you can also find it at Costco now.

    July 6th, 2012 3:41 pm

  10. Pam Theele

    Just bought farro at Whole Foods to try, then saw a big bag at Costco and bought it. Cooked it tonight and put some pesto on it. It was great. Served it with caprese salad and my husband’s homemade bread. An excellent meal!!

    November 5th, 2013 4:33 pm

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