Farro is the Italian name for emmer wheat, an ancient strain of hard wheat from the Fertile Crescent in western Asia. Often confused with spelt due to their similar taste and texture, farro comes in perlato (pearled) and semi-perlato (semi-pearled); opt for semi-perlato as it has more of the fiber- and nutrient-rich bran intact (or buy whole farro if you can find it). It comes in three grades: long, medium or cracked. Purchase one of the intact grades of farro (long or medium) and crack it yourself in a coffee grinder or blender for maximum freshness.
Farro is beloved in Italy - and more recently in North America and other European countries as well - for its roasted, nutty flavor and distinctive chewy texture. Farro's tough husk makes it more difficult to process than other commercially produced grains, but that husk also helps protect the grain's vital nutrients. With a higher fiber and protein content than common wheat, farro is also especially rich in magnesium and B vitamins. As a type of wheat, farro is unsuitable for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat sensitivity or allergy.
Note: as with all grains, pearled farro will take less time to cook than semi-pearled, which will take less time to cook than whole.
Cooking time: 25-40 minutes
Liquid per cup of grain: 2 cups
How to cook farro or emmer wheat: Combine with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for up to 40 minutes, until grains are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid.