I recently became introduced to farro at a local breakfast spot that included it as part of their granola option. It was paired yogurt, fresh diced fruit, and honey. I loved the texture and flavor and wanted to learn more. Little did I know that this tiny grain packed such a nutrient-rich punch! Its fantastic and can be used in anything from breakfast items such as the granola I had to soups and salads and more! Here's some interesting information I found on the old world grain...
In recent years, quinoa and cous cous have become staples in many households across the US. With their known health benefits, these grains provide a lot of protein, dietary fiber, and iron. These whole grains provide a natural balance to a diet that may be lacking in such nutrients, specifically those who are vegan and vegetarian. Farro is a whole grain sustained from Roman times and has been a staple across the Middle East and Italy for centuries. It has most recently gained popularity with many chefs and is being featured on menus everywhere from five-star restaurants to local breakfast spots throughout the Western world.
What is Farro?
Farro is a whole grain derived from something like a wheat plant. However, it is actually considered a “light wheat” which means it is lower in gluten than many wheat products. This is especially good news for those with a gluten intolerance, GI discomfort, and those with Celiac’s Disease. Farro has a chewy, nutty texture which compliments many of the dishes it is served with. It is a great substitute in foods that typically contain rice, oats, and pasta such as soups, breakfast meals, and salads.
What are the nutritional advantages of farro?
Farro has many nutritional advantages over other whole grains such as wheat, quinoa, and rice. Although all of these grains have their advantages, it may be beneficial to add farro to your recipe book for a bit of variety. Farro is known to contain less calories and fat than quinoa, while it contains more protein and calcium. It contains more protein, iron, calcium, and fiber than brown rice and can be used in quite a few more dishes as a substitute.
Farro is a good source of complex carbohydrates which is linked to lower blood cholesterol. Since it contains a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins, such as vitamin B, it can be eaten alone or with fresh vegetables or legumes for a complete meal.
Where can I find farro?
While it is still gaining popularity in the US, farro can be found at many health food stores in the same section as the rice and quinoa. Store brands can be found in some and may be a cheaper alternative. While brown rice is still one of the cheapest grains, farro contains more nutrients per serving. Farro is typically found cheaper per package than quinoa or kamut. Another great alternative is that because it is such a nutrient-rich grain, the portion sizes can be kept to about ½ cup of cooked farro.
½ cup of cooked farro contains: 100 calories; 1 gram of fat; 3.5 grams of fiber; 5 grams of protein; 4% daily calcium; 4% daily iron
When combined with nutrient dense vegetables, legumes, and fruits, this super-grain provides a flavorful meal packed with energy that lasts! Try it as an alternative to your next stir fry, grain-salad (recipe below), or pair it with diced apples, Greek yogurt, and cinnamon for breakfast!
Information adapted from Clemson.edu library online and NYTimes.com online. Pricing information adapted from bobsredmill.com
Mediterranean Farro Salad (from Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro package)
· 3 cups Water
· 1 cup cubed Eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
· 5 Tbsp Olive Oil (3 Tbsp for frying)
· Salt as needed
· 1/2 cup diced Red Onion
· 1/2 cup low sodium chickpeas (Not part of the Bob's Red Mill recipe*)
· 1 cup seeded and diced Tomatoes
· 1-1/2 cups seeded and diced Cucumber
· 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
· 1/2 cup chopped Parsley
· 1/4 cup chopped Mint
· 1/4 cup chopped Dill
1. Prepare farro using the direct or quick-cooking method. Drain and let cool.
2. Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread cubes on several layers of paper towels and lightly salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes to extract any excess water from the vegetable. Blot cubes dry.
3. Heat 1/2-inch oil in a heavy skillet. Fry eggplant cubes in batches, stirring often to brown all sides. When dark brown, remove eggplant from oil and drain on paper towels. Season with salt, if desired.
4. When cool, toss farro with vegetables, chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and herbs.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Makes 4 - 8 servings
Makes 4 - 8 servings
Nutritional information (per serving):
Calories per serving: 210
Total Fat per serving: 12g
Total Carbs per serving: 22g
Dietary Fiber: 20%
Protein: 4g (*Can be increased by 20g (40% daily value) by adding chickpeas/garbanzo beans to salad)