Farro is an ancient grain with a modern reputation.
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
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
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