Farro is a type of wheat that originated in Egypt and became popular in Italy over two thousand years ago. Today, this healthy grain is popular in Europe, Asia and North America.
Farro (épautre in French) looks like a cross between brown rice and barley. It has a nutty taste and a delicate chewy texture.
The grain is a main ingredient in various organic or gourmet dishes. You can include farro in soups, mediterranean salads or vegetarian burgers. It’s a healthy substitute for rice or pasta dishes.
Farro has many health benefits. It’s high in fiber and protein and a good source of magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron. It’s an excellent source of B Vitamins, especially Vitamin B3 or niacin — a nutrient that helps break down carbohydrates, fat and protein. Farro is also an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, such as cyanogenic glucosides, that boost your immune system, regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
We digest farro slowly, which results in a steady stream of energy throughout the day. It’s the perfect food when you’re on the go or working out. Farro contains lignan compounds—plant chemicals responsible for its high anti-oxidant content—making it a key food in the fight against cancer and heart disease.
Farro is not gluten free. If you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergies, you should not consume any foods that contain farro.
Here’s a delicious Farro White Bean Risotto recipe, which is a favourite in my family. Catherine Katz at cuisinicity.com is the author of this nutritious dish. Her recipe satisfies both vegetarian and non-vegetarian palates. If you’re vegan, you can substitute the grated cheese with smoked or silken tofu. Catherine’s risotto—also called farotto—is fun and easy to make. Give it a go.
Catherine’s Farro White Bean Risotto
Farro is a whole grain that has long been used in Meditarreanean cooking. Its nutty richness blends beautifully with the white wine and small beans in this simple risotto and the addition of organic soy milk gives it a rich creaminess. I think of this risotto as a protein-rich side dish with Grilled Veggies or sautéed mushrooms, spinach, kale, red chard, butternut squash, the list is endless, whatever you grow in your garden-I leave it to your imagination! All you need is a great big mixed greens salad, and you got yourself a complete dinner!
Cuisinicity Tip: I like to use a very flavorful cheese, such as Gruyère de Comté or Manchego cheese (you can also use smoked mozzarella) because I use it very sparingly–1/3 cup is all it needs– to give it the richness.
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cup organic dry faro* (see note below)
1 cup white wine
3 cups water
½ cup organic soy milk (unsweetened)
1 can (15 oz) navy beans (unsalted), well rinsed and drained
⅓ cup grated Gruyère or Manchego cheese
½ tsp salt
Lots of fresh ground black pepper
Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil in a large shallow pan for a few minutes until soft.
Add dry farro to the pan and stir with a wood spoon to coat with the olive oil well and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
Turn down the heat a little and add the wine (it will sizzle–I love that sound!!), water and salt and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Stir in the soy milk and beans and continue to simmer uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed (some of it left is good as it will blend with the melted cheese-yum!).
Turn off the heat and add the cheese and ground pepper, stirring gently to blend and sprinkle with a little fresh rosemary.
* Whole grain farro is healthier than the pearled or semi-pearled kind. However, the whole grain type requires more cooking time. For better results, before making the recipe, put the dry whole grain farro in a bowl and cover it with cool water for 8 to 16 hours in the refrigerator.
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Photo credit: Catherine Katz