What Is Farro And How Do You Cook It?

Quinoa. Spelt. Farro. According to The Spruce Eats, ancient grains like these started showing up on our grocery store shelves semi-recently, but what exactly are they? And how to cook and eat them properly? The Old Ways Whole Grains Council says ancient grains are defined "loosely as grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years." All of these types of grains have been eaten by humans for millennia, but farro, a long time Mediterranean favorite, has gained popularity as a rice alternative (via The Spruce Eats).

Though we refer to it as one thing, NPR says technically farro can be three different grains: "farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer), and farro grande (spelt)," with emmer being the most common farro type sold in the U.S. Chewy and nutty in flavor, farro is full of fiber and protein, and is a great source of many vitamins and minerals (via Healthline).

But what to do you do with farro?

There's no miracle trick or single way to cook farro, though there is a little disagreement about the preparation. Love & Lemons says that some people "swear by" boiling a certain ratio of liquid to grains, cooking until the water or broth is absorbed like rice (as is recommended in many of the recipes shared by NPR); while others prefer to boil farro in a full pot of water and simply drain it like pasta. If you're treating your farro like a pasta, the outlet suggests you first rinse it in cold water and then cook until the grains are al dente (aka just a tiny bit chewy). Drain any excess liquid, then spread the farro on a baking sheet or plate to dry, which will prevent them from becoming mushy.

You can eat your cooked farro warm or wait for it to cool, served as a side, on top of salads, or as an ingredient in soup. As an extra tasty option, Today says you can pump up the flavor of farro by sautéing it with some onions and herbs before adding your cooking liquid. NPR also recommends making a sweeter dish of farro mixed with plums, grapes, honey, and spices. We challenge you to explore your culinary creativity and see what farro recipes you can come up with!