Farro is an ancient rustic grain belonging to the wheat family and is widely used across northern Italy. It has a taste and texture similar to that of barley – nutty and chewy – making it a perfect base for hearty salads, soups and farrotto, a dish that uses farro in the place of rice and is prepared in the same way as a traditional risotto.
I first came across it in a dusty little food store in the middle of the ancient town of Assisi in Umbria; it was a bit of a revelation to me, not just because it’s so good to eat but also because it is high in fibre, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C & E. Sadly, farro isn’t easy to come by in the UK – even our super authentic local Italian deli doesn’t stock it – because it hasn’t hit the British radar yet but, once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look back. I bring it home from Italy or I buy it online from the fabulous Melbury & Appleton, a respected source of wide range of unusual ingredients. If all else fails, it can be substituted with pearled spelt from Sharpham Park which is organically grown by Roger Saul (the founder of Mulberry and my former employer) near Glastonbury in Somerset.
How to cook it
Like all grains, I soak mine overnight. When ready to cook, drain and rinse the grains. Then place them in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for between 10 and 15 minutes. You want each grain to be al dente. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.