Friday, September 10, 2010

Farro with green beans and garlic

There I was, getting ready to post about this dish that can be a healthy, light main course or an original side dish, when I realized I wasn't quite sure what to call farro in English. I was pretty sure it was spelt and was surprised when I read the correct translation is emmer wheat, although it is often confused with spelt. They are actually cousins, the difference presumably being that emmer wheat needs to be soaked (although some say it is optional), spelt does not. I did not soak my farro, so perhaps it was spelt, but it distinctly said farro on the label. Oy vey! At this point my level of confusion kept growing and I went on researching. It turns out that a variety of hulled wheats (whose kernels retain their hull during the harvest and are dehulled afterwards, before further processing) are called farro in Italian: emmer wheat, spelt (or Dinkel in German) and einkorn. At times the distinction between farro piccolo, medio and grande will be made (small, medium, large), but not always. It seems that the largest cultivations in Italy are of emmer, but spelt is usually the easiest to find in most places.

Farro was one of the first domesticated crops and was widely cultivated in ancient times. It is now a relict crop, although it has experienced a comeback in recent years. What origianlly caused its decline, the tough hull that makes it hard to process, is what is making it so popular now. The hull also protects the crop from insects and pollutants, requiring a lower use of pesticides. It is high in fiber and protein and very versatile in the kitchen: it can be used warm in soups, cold in salads, even in desserts. Its flour can be used to make pasta (tried it and loved it), bread, pizza etc.

What is there not to like? I know the reason I love it: its delicate, nutty taste and its chewy, toothy bite.



1 pack farro 400gr.
green beans
2-3 garlic cloves
1 shallot
olive oil

Prepare your farro as if you were cooking pasta, but let it boil longer, approx. 20-25 minutes (follow instructions on package). While it is cooking, peel and chop your garlic (I kept the pieces big enough to discard if desired) and shallot. Snap off the ends of your green beans, rinse them and break them into smaller pieces. Heat some olive oil in a wok, and when it is very hot throw in the garlic and shallots, shortly followed by the beans. Cook enough for the garlic and onions to brown and the beans to soften a little, but keeping their brilliant green colour. When the farro is ready, drain it well and mix in with the stir-fried vegetables.

Hope you all have a great week end!


  1. I have never eaten farro. Thanks for the introduction. I will look for it at the store and give it a try.

  2. Glad I was able to introduce you to a new ingredient. That is what blogging is all about to me: learning new things from all over the world. So I am happy I can do the same for others.

  3. Wow, it sounds like the perfect lunch: I might prepare some and take it to the office for lunch time, some of these days!
    Love it!

  4. Funny because a friend came to visit from Sweden and brought me Dinkel crackers and I fell in love with the name Dinkel! I love eating grains like this: as you say, chewy, toothy, nutty what is there not to like? This is a great dish.

  5. Perfect light lunch....Beautiful photography...Love your space... I will have to try this recipe soon. Simple and looks delicious!



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