The Pharoah's Wheat that Built Caesar's Empire
Farro is a healthy whole grain that Italians have been eating for years in recipes ranging from salads to soups.
This grain, which is referred to as the "Mother of all grains", is the original grain from which all others, rice, barley, wheat and rye, derive, dating back over 6,000 years to the Egyptians.
Circa 30 BC and after Caesar's invasion of Egypt, it was introduced to Italy and became a staple at every level of Roman society and served to the Roman Legions during their conquest of the known world.
Ground into a paste and cooked into a polenta type dish, it sustained Rome's populace for centuries.
If you enjoy discovering new whole grains to add to your meal rotations, this whole grain should give you a new way of enjoying wheat.
No stranger to Italians, emmer is an ancient Tuscan grain that has elbowed its way to the American dinner table.
Farro is the Italian name for an ancient wheat strain known as emmer wheat.
It's sometimes confused with spelt, but is actually an older strain than spelt.
Ancient grains and seeds are in demand because they’re better for you, not as highly processed, and easier to digest than many of the conventional grains on the market.
“They weren’t refining grains back in the day, so when you see an ancient grain, you know it’s 100 percent whole grain.”
Emmer is available whole (intact grain), cracked (whole grain cracked into smaller pieces), pearled (perlato), or semi-pearled (semi-perlato).
Go for the whole or cracked form, where the grain, including the bran, is still intact.
Otherwise, choose semi-pearled because it still retains more of the bran (where the nutrients and fiber are found) than the pearled version.
Loaded with protein and fiber, this super grain also boasts good amounts of niacin, magnesium and zinc.
Just one cup has about 8 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Whole grains like this one are full of minerals, including magnesium, which may relieve tension and menstrual cramps.
The complex carbs break down slowly, keeping your energy level stable.
This grain also has cyanogenic glucosides, a type of carb that may boost the immune system.
Look for pearled or semi-pearled because part of the grain has been removed, thus types will cook more quickly than whole grain.
It also becomes a complete protein when combined with beans or legumes making this grain a favorite with vegetarians.
Whether eaten in grain form or in a pasta form, it has a satisfying chewy texture.
It looks and tastes like brown rice, with a hint of barley’s mellow, nutty flavor.
In fact, emmer pasta is so exceptional that many Italians prefer it to regular whole-wheat pasta.
You can eat it plain, add it to soups, make a risotto, or even toss it into a refreshing vegetable salad.
We think you're going to love it!
Farro Risotto with Acorn Squash and Kale
Yield: 3-4 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 30 min
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided
1 small acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 bunch red Russian or other kale (about 5 oz.), center stems removed, leaves torn
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
3/4 c. farro
1/4 c. diced white onion
1 small garlic clove, very thinly sliced
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 c. vegetable stock mixed with 2 c. water, warmed
1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan.
Add squash, season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Roast, turning squash every 10 minutes, until tender, 30–35 minutes.
Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool; drain.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Add farro; toss to coat.
Roast in oven until toasted, stirring once, about 6 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl; wipe out skillet.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add garlic; stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
Add wine; increase heat to high.
Stir until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add farro and 1/2 c. warm stock mixture.
Stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Continue cooking, adding broth by 1/2 cupfuls and allowing broth to be absorbed between additions, until farro is tender, about 1 hour.
Add kale, squash, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and cheese; stir gently until butter and cheese are melted and vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We hope you'll enjoy!
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