In order to keep your waist-line in check, heart happy and your mind functioning properly, finding healthy alternatives to incorporate into your daily diet is essential. Farro is a type of nutty wheat grain and is often used as a substitute for pasta or rice. It has a flavor similar to brown rice, and is easy to prepare, make ahead and even freeze.
This grain can be purchased in whole, semi-pearled, and pearled forms. The healthiest? Whole-grain. While it contains the most fiber, it does take longer to cook than semi-pearled or pearled farro and can be rougher on sensitive digestive systems. It also has an earthier, nuttier flavor. My recommendation? Try semi-pearled farror to begin. It cooks in about half the time as whole-grain farro (since the bran has been scored) allowing heat to reach the center more quickly. While it does have less nutrition than whole-grain farro, it also has a less "earthy" taste. For a palate introduction to the grain, this would be a "love at first sight" initiation.
1 cup farro
2 1/2 cups liquid (I often cook with chicken stock - you may also use different types of stock or even water)
1 pinch salt
Before cooking, rinse the farro with cool, running water, until the water runs clear. A fine-gap mesh colander works impeccably for this task.
Combine the liquid and salt in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high until the water reaches a rolling boil. Carefully stir in the farro (careful not to burn your fingers!) Verify that the farro is completely submerged in the water and reduce heat to low or medium-low. Stir the farro to prevent sticking (to itself or the bottom the the pan). Place the cover on the pan and allow to cook.
In terms of cook time, there are three different consistencies to play with the texture of farro: chewy, tender or mushy.
Such high maintenance, right?
For a chewy texture, allow dry whole farro to cook for 30 minutes; semi-pearled or pearled farro cooks for 20 minutes.
For a tender texture, allow dry whole farro to cook for 40 minutes; semi-pearled or pearled farro cooks for 30 minutes.
For a mushy texture, allow dry whole farro to cook for 60 minutes. semi-pearled or pearled farro cooks for 35 - 45 minutes.
Because cooking time is not an exact science for farro, be sure to check on the consistency about every 5 - 7 minutes. Once cooked to the appropriate state, drain the excess water. The farro will absorb most of the water, but there may be some excess water on the bottom of the saucepan - depending on how long you cooked the farro.
Now what to prepare with farro? As stated before, healthy alternatives are essential to incorporate into your daily diet. However, I am not asking you to make drastic changes in one fell-swoop. Rather, try replacing rice with farro when enjoying a nice roast. Roasts are easy to throw into a crock-pot and allow to cook low and slow to hours. Some vegetables to accompany the roast will impart their sweet flavors into the meat while cooking (think carrots, onions, zucchini).
Just because you cook a meal in a crock-pot, does not mean that you need to slop it down on a plate... challenge yourself to create a work of art. For example, farro (cooked to a tender-texture), with a few slices of pot roast, carrots, onions, fiddle-head ferns, a touch of horse-radish-Greek yogurt, jus and micro-greens. Take a few minutes to allow that creativity inside of your soul to emerge.
You will thank me later.
"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." - Elder Uchtdorf