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Great Farro ideas?

I haven't ever cooked farro before, but I picked some up at an Italian grocery while out of town last weekend. At over 7 dollars for just over a pound, I want to have some solid ideas to try that highlight the grain. What are your favorites? Also did I pay way to much? This seems outrageous for a whole grain, compared to barley, rice, quinoa etc. TIA for suggestions!

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  1. I was just thinking of farro! I went to a restaurant in boston sunday night and had roasted sole that was served on a farro edamame mixture that was really wonderful, it had a great nutty taste. I have also had farro risotto.

    1. Farro is very versatile. You also might see it called Emmer. Think of it like pasta. You can have it hot, cold, in a salad, in soup, with beans, meat, side dish, main dish, etc. It does take a while to cook; 30 minutes +. Check the package for cooking time. Do you make soup? That would be an easy way to work with it at first. Just throw it in the pot as it simmers in place of pasta or rice.

      I like to mix it with rice (cooked separately) and serve as a salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green onion and with a vinaigrette dressing made with 3 parts olive oil, 1 part sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.

      The price you paid is good. Perhaps from a local grower? It can sell for a few dollars more.

      3 Replies
      1. re: EvZE

        There's a wonderful farro "risotto" recipe in a book we cooked from several months ago, The Flexitarian Table. I'm sure there are reports on it in the Cookbook of the Month thread for that book.

        1. re: EvZE

          Not a good price, but a typical price. I've never seen US grown farro, though there probably is some out there. It's mainly imported from Italy, so the price is high. As for dishes, most pilaf recipes will work well with farro.

          1. re: Zeldog

            I just found a source for US-grown farro on-line, with a much better price than the $8 per pound I had been paying. Bluebird Grain Farms in WA. http://www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com/ind...

          1. Make farrotto with it. Just sub it in your favorite risotto recipe.

            1. How does farro compare with wheat berries?

              Whole wheat sells for less than $2/lb, and takes several hours to cook.

              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                It is similar to wheat berries but does not have the bite that some love about wheat berries and some do not. I love them both. Farro works great in any risotto recipe, just replace it for the rice. And I love it as a salad... any kind of rice salad you like (or barley salad or wheat berry salad) just do the same, replace it.

                1. re: Tom P

                  Yes, farro costs 3 or 4 times more than wheat berries, so in terms of dollars per calorie, wheat berries win. But retail farro is "semi-pearled" meaning the husk is mostly but not fully milled away, which is another reason why it costs more than wheat berries. Semi-pearled farro takes less time to cook compared to whole wheat berries but it still retains a nutty flavor. Also, farro has a lower gluten content than wheat, which gives it a really nice tooth feel. For me, it's a bit like wild rice, but better. Whether it is 3x better than wheat berries or barley or something else is a matter of taste and pocketbook.

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    I just finished a tasty farro "risotto" with sugar snap peas and asparagus. While vary tasty I think I would have enjoyed barley almost as much. It has a nice flavor and a texture between barley and wheat berries. I don't regret trying it, and I would order an entree with it at a restaurant, but I don't think my budget allows this on a regular basis (ditto wild rice).

              2. So I haven't tried it yet, but I get the feeling that it isn't 3x better than barley or wheat berries, that are much easier to find and 1/3 the price. I think I'll try the risotto tomorrow, with some asparagus, and I'll report back.

                1. This is a big favorite in my house. You can improvise:

                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ma...

                  1. I had great sucess with a Farro Salad that had, dried cranberries, pecans, a simple red wine/oil vinegerette and a touch of (Boyajian) orange oil.

                    1. Farro is my new obsession. That's about the price I pay here in NYC at Whole Foods (maybe it was a dollar or so more, but in the general vicinity of that $). I've been boiling it like you would pasta - I thought it would take quite awhile to make it but I found that it really only needed 10-12 mins and it had a nice chewy consistency which I like. Lately I've just made it very simply - when it's finished cooking, drain and toss it with a little butter, salt+pepper, and lemon; sometimes I add in a little grated parmesan depending on what I'm serving it with.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: pellegrino31

                        At 10-12 minutes, I am guessing this is a parboiled grain. Raw wheat berries take much longer.

                        1. re: paulj

                          Paulj,

                          Farro isn't parboiled. I think pellegrino's watch runs slow or he likes his grains really crunchy. I've never timed it, I just taste every now and then, but I figure farro takes about 30-45 minutes to cook.

                          1. re: Zeldog

                            Not a slow watch :) but really haven't had to cook it for longer than 10-12 minutes. I fully expected a longer cooking time the first time I made it, and when I tasted it after 10-12 minutes it had the chewy consistency I wanted.

                            Zeldog - it takes you 30-45 minutes when you cook it as I describe above - boiling it in water like pasta?

                            1. re: pellegrino31

                              Another poster mentioned semi-pearled grains. With all the bran I'd expect it to take a long time (like brown rice or more). But if some of the bran has been removed then it should cook more like white rice or pearl barley.

                              1. re: pellegrino31

                                I made some tonight and timed it. Sure enough, pellegrino is right. It was al dente (a bit on the hard side) at 12 minutes and nice and soft, as I like it, at about 20 minutes. Apologies, pellegrino. Served it in place of cous cous with a chicken tagine. Very nice.

                                1. re: Zeldog

                                  Aw, thanks but no need to apologize! Funny thing is that last night when I was making dinner with my fiance, I was joking that I got "challenged" on CH about my farro cooking time! I do tend to like things a little more al dente and my fiance generally likes it that way too but asked that I cook it a bit longer next time :)

                        2. These were at my wedding shower for the vegetarians and they were loved by all...
                          Grilled portobellos stuffed with farro salad - it's delicious

                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                          1. There are two good recipes in the Zuni Cookbook for farro - one a salad (with a variation) and the other a farrotto. Another dish I make is to cook the farro first (and it only takes about 10 minutes according to the Zuni Cookbook). While the farro is cooking, I make a tomato sauce with some garlic browned a bit first, a large can of tomatoes, salt, pepper and add a little honey (to cut acidity of tomatoes). I then add in farro, a can of good tuna fish and capers, all to taste. The dish is a big favorite in my household.

                            The price for farro from Italy is in the $6-$7 range. Most recipes call for one cup of farro so you get two meals (or side dishes) out of the 1Lb bag.

                            1. Mark Bittman recommends toasting farro first in olive oil and then adding water to cover by an inch and simmering 30 to 40 minutes until done, then draining.

                              To make a lovely warm bean and farro salad, add some cooked cannellini beans (canned are fine, rinse well), sliced carrots and diced dried plums (aka prunes) and heat through with a bit of chicken broth. Stir in sliced celery and plate, topping with a lot of coarsely chopped Italian parsley and either torn up prosciutto or crumbled feta or goat cheese and toasted pistachios. Yum. (Adapted from a recipe a friend brought back from a class at the Culinary Inst of America.)

                              This recipe for farro with hearty greens, wild mishrooms and goat cheese is also fabulous. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: GretchenS

                                  I'm trying your recipe, GretchenS! Toasted pistachios are a nice touch. I usually make a salad of farro, a handful of chopped cucumbers, some diced red onions, a handful of Italian parsley and some chopped tomatoes with a lemon and olive oil dressing. Basil works, too.

                                2. I tried this with great success. One time I added chicken to make a meal in itself instead of just a side dish. Delish!

                                  http://www.chow.com/recipes/10895

                                  1. Rustichella d'Abruzzo makes pasta made from organic farro:

                                    http://www.manicaretti.com/products/c...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MSK

                                      Farro is great added to a minestrone soup instead of barley

                                    2. I fell in love with farro after workng in a deli/gourment food store in the SF Bay Area that served a prepared farro salad:
                                      http://www.agferrari.com/index.php/in...
                                      I loved this salad so much, I served it to the 250 people at my wedding, to rave reviews.

                                      Both the store and the recipie are fabulous, and I found the farro and some farro pastas at a comparable price to what you mentioned. Hope you like the recipie. I have also used it as a replacement for barley in soups, or as a hot side with celery and other herbs and spices in place of a wild rice type side. I love farro.

                                      1. I decided today that it was high time to start using the small bag of farro that I bought at Trader Joe's some months ago (no idea if they still carry it). I cooked a portion's worth in plain water, so as to find out what it tastes like unadorned. Rather like cooked steelcut oats though not mucilaginous, and chewier. I would not call it a nutty flavor. More like barley.

                                        I had a large bell pepper on hand so using a few ounces of ground beef, plus some onion, tomato, cheese, and herbs, I made a baked stuffed pepper for my dinner. The farro nearly doubled in size from the original simmered grain, and I really like the final texture. I think it would make really good poultry stuffing. That's the plan for the rest of the bag, though the initial cooking will be in broth.

                                        1. I completely forgot about this thread! I ended up using it a lot like barley (with beef and mushrooms)- I've tried once or twice more and I like the texture a bit better than barley, but being cheap I stick with barley (which I'm quite fond of). Funny to think that quinoa used to be cheaper than this - just saw it for $9 a pound in the bulk section. Thanks for all the responses over time!