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.
2-3 garlic cloves
Hope you all have a great week end!