FAVORITE GRAIN #3 – FARRO
Are you familiar with Farro? If you aren’t, don’t worry, you are not alone. This is another ancient grain that only found its way back onto American farms and into American restaurants over the last several years.
I don’t want to get too technical, but here are a few things you should know: Farro is harvested from emmer wheat, one of the first grains cultivated by farmers in the Middle East. Domesticated farro dates back to around 7,700 BC!
Farro was an essential food throughout the Roman Empire from around 40 BC through the the Empire’s decline. By then, farmers in the region began to grow less emmer and more higher yielding, less nutrient grains. While farro is still commonly used in Northern Italian cooking, it is uncommon in most of the world – something you might only find in gourmet shops or health food stores.
But in Washington state, that has all changed – thanks to farmers Sam and Brooke Lucy at Bluebird Grains Farm.
Several years ago the Lucys began growing emmer wheat on their farm in the Methow Valley. They produce a variety of emmer products, including flour and farro from their very own mill. Because of Brooke and Sam, farro is now available in many of our local grocery stores and is featured in delis and restaurants throughout the Seattle area.
How cool is that?
Raw farro looks a bit like brown rice. When cooked, the grains are plump, chewy and nutty. Farro is lower in gluten then other kinds of wheat and high in protein, fiber and nutrients, including vitamin B. Farro is also very sturdy. I love it because it holds up so well in dressed salads and in soups.
This Farro Salad with Olives & Feta tastes a lot like a Greek Salad, but it has more substance and protein, thanks to the farro. Like the Quinoa Salad with Raisins & Almonds and the Wild Rice Salad with Edamame and Tofu, this is a great item to pack in your lunch and take to work. It would also be a great side to s summer BBQ of chicken or lamb.
Bluebird Grains Farm farro is available locally at PCC Markets, Whole Foods and QFC Grocery Stores. You can also order it directly from Brooke Lucy at Bluebird Grains Farm. You can also see them at the University Farmers Market June 2nd and July 7th, and the Ballard Farmers Market on June 3rd and July 8th.
You might also like to read about Vegetable Beef Soup with Farro.
- 1 cup Blue Bird Grains Farm Farro
- 5 cups water
- salt and pepper
- ½ small white onion, medium dice
- 1 small zucchini, medium dice
- 8 small crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 20 baby pear tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- Place the farro, 5 cups of water, and 1 tsp. of salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer the farro until it is tender but still chewy - about 45 minutes. Drain the farro and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan.
- When oil is hot, add the onion and cook until it is limp, but not brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and mushrooms. Sprinkle the vegetables with a little salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the zucchini begins to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, about another 2 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables from the pan and drain off any excess liquid. Place the vegetables in a large bowl to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, and dijon mustard.
- Add the farro, tomatoes, olives, feta, basil and parsley to the vegetables.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine everything. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate for at least ½ hour so the flavors can mingle.