Farro – Italian whole grain – nutty and chewy
When I traveled to Italy with my mothers sister Gail in 2008, we ate a whole grain called Farro that appeared to be a common addition to most of the meals we enjoyed. Sure there were pasta dishes, but there were also bean soups and salads made with farro. At the time we thought it was spelt or a type of barley. It is a chewy and nutty whole grain that you cook and toss with vegetables or add to a soup or stew. Farro is gaining in popularity in the US as I can now find it at Whole Foods.
Farro and Fava Bean Soup
Early when I first had gastric bypass surgery it was a game to not eat any carbs or get as low as I could get – while this mindset allowed me to lose almost one hundred and fifty pounds or half of my body weight at the time, it is not a healthy way to live. I don’t want to exist on solid protein foods for the rest of my life. A better way to maintain weight loss and have healthy balance is to eat lean protein foods, vegetables, whole grains, and fruit.
In essence, I need to eat for the rest of my life the way I really should have been eating before rearranging my internal organs with surgery. I love my new relationship with food. I eat fresh fish, seafood, chicken, beef, lamb and pork but when I look at my plate it is in reasonable proportion – a maximum of four ounces of protein with an equal portion of fresh or cooked vegetables and occasionally a whole grain such as quinoa or farro.
Very few people actually know what ‘Whole Grain’ means. Sure they say the words but if you ask them to name five whole grains they cannot do it. The simplest comparison to demonstrate the difference between whole and refined grains is between whole wheat and white breads. White bread is heavily processed, giving it a uniform texture without much flavor. On the other hand, whole wheat bread is denser and has more color and texture. The taste is more complex and satisfying, and even slightly toasted or nutty in flavor.
I am a fan of farro because it has substance and a wonderful flavor. Farro (Triticum dicoccon) is Italian for Emmer wheat – which is known to be an old form of wheat. It was supposedly first cultivated in Babylonia, and is still prevalent as a cereal grain in Europe. Farro is not Spelt. If you see Spelt in your aisle, don’t confuse it with Farro and vice versa. Though they have connections, they are different. Farro can be used in stews, as a substitute for rice or in salads.
Montebella brand Italian Farro
Here is a list of whole grains in case you cant name five.
Amaranth – Brown rice – Buckwheat – Bulgur – Farro – Millet – Quinoa – Whole-grain barley – Whole-grain cornmeal – Whole rye – Wild rice
Here are some exceptional recipes using Italian whole grain farro for you to try.
Farro and Fava Bean Soup
Farro Salad with Fennel and Edamame
Tilapia with Tomato Olive Sauce and Farro