Farro: History and Guide to the Ancient Grain

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Farro salad with red onion, plum tomato, and feta

The whole wheat grain farro has a long and interesting history and for many years fed almost the entirety of the Mediterranean and Near East.  Specifically, it fed the vast majority of Romans from 44BC to the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476.  The poor of the Roman Empire ground farro and included it as an ingredient in a type of polenta called, plus.  As other grains become more easily cultivated farro lost it’s popularity until the French began using the grain in soups.

uncookd farro

Farro is one of my favorite grains and I use it in soups during the winter months (to add starch and a bit of flavor to minestra, for example, or a hearty beef or chicken soup).  Farro is also great as a salad and can be added to greens or prepared on it’s own with a bit of diced parsley, red onion, and extra virgin olive oil.  You can also prepare farrotto which is a type of risotto dish.

ready to be mixed as a salad


Farro has tremendous health benefits and includes a ton of protein, fiber, and vitamin B.

Ingredients and Process:

One of my favorite recipes for farro is simply comprised of mixing:

  • red onion
  • diced tomato
  • good quality feta
  • parsley
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt.
Cooking farro is straightforward and while you could soak the grain overnight it’s unnecessary (especially if you like your whole grains with a bit of crunch).  For 1 cup Farro, add about 2 and 1/2 cups salted water in a pot.  Bring to a boil and then add a lid and set to simmer.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Farro available at the  All Things Italian!

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