Toasted Farro with Greens

Farro is one of my go-to grains for busy weeknights, and weekends too. Although it’s one of the oldest forms of wheat and has been part of the Italian diet since ancient times, its only been in recent years that it gained popularity in the U.S. I use it a lot because I can easily have a pot of farro simmering while I prepare the rest of dinner. Versatile and easy to cook up, farro has got this alluring texture and aroma that pairs so well with a variety of things like soups, salads, legumes and vegetables. If you buy the semi-pearled variety—retaining some but not all of the bran and nutrients—it cooks up pretty fast, about 25 minutes. The more plump and chewy whole grain variety may take a little more effort to cook, but it’s definitely worth the time if you can find it.

Toasted Farro with Greens

I like to make a few extra cups of the stuff at the beginning of the week, storing any excess in my refrigerator for quick and later use. When cooked, farro is plump, chewy and a little nutty, but here I toasted it for the first time. Delish! Toasting gives it a pleasant chewiness and slightly sweet and toasty flavor. You can simply season it with olive oil and salt, or with a dressing like this one made of tahini, a little water, and lemon juice. If you can get a hold of pomegranate molasses*, drizzle a little over this dish for a tart and fruity finish. A beautiful deep reddish purple, pomegranate molasses is thick and has that same sweet and tart characteristic of one of those sweet and sour candies that make your lips want to pucker and smile at the same time.

Toasted Farro with Greens

Toasted Farro with Greens
Slightly Adapted from Food and Wine

1 cup farro
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 packed cups baby turnip greens, baby kale, collards, or spinach, chopped small
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup almonds, chopped or sliced
pomegranate molasses*, for drizzling (optional)

In a saucepan, cover the farro with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Note: salting the water is optional. Cook over moderate heat until just tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate, until chilled, about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of water with the tahini and olive oil.
In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the farro in an even layer and cook over high heat, stirring once, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and the greens and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the greens are just tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and the tahini mixture and remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, and season with salt. Transfer the farro to a bowl, drizzle with pomegranate molasses, if using, and serve.

* Pomegranate molasses is a syrup made from concentrated pomegranate juice and sugar. It’s not at all like the sugarcane derived molasses. You can find it in specialty grocery stores, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets, and even some of the main-stream supermarkets.

5 thoughts on “Toasted Farro with Greens

  1. Farro is one of the grains I’m yet to try. I suppose I reached a point where there are only so my grains you need in the pantry. Any reason you prefer farro over say quinoa or barley?

    1. Hi Nicola, thanks for your comment! Great question!

      I don’t necessarily prefer farro over say quinoa or barley. I would say that I love a variety of whole grains because of their rich flavors, vivid colors and fabulous textures, and I find a lot of pleasure and benefit in rotating them in my pantry. For example, each grain/pseudograin/pseudocereal is unique in character and quality. I rotate grains (as I rotate vegetables and fruits) not only for balance in my diet, but also because I have a love affair with learning new things about food—a passion of mine. The variety of whole grains available simply pique my interest and I hope in sharing them with you, they also pique your interest to try them and see if you like them. I find their nutritional profiles, textures, and flavors so interesting. For instance quinoa is nutrient-rich. As a vegetarian, quinoa is great for me and my family because its seeds are so high in amino acids, its an excellent source of protein. Even though I have no issues with eating gluten, I also appreciate that it is gluten free. It’s also a quick dinner staple. Like farro, I often make cups of it in advance to keep on hand for busy weeknights. Barley also has its own nutritional benefits. It has the highest fiber content of all the whole grains. It can help reduce cholesterol and help control blood sugar. My husband loves the texture of barley and loves it when I add it to soups or in place of brown rice. As for farro, my son and I love its nutty sweetness and delicate chew. I don’t think it’s necessarily better than barley or quinoa, but it is indeed different and there are times/recipes when it’s best to use it. For example, I think it holds it’s shape a little more than barley, so for this recipe (Toasted Farro with Greens) barley may not work as well. Kamut, wheat berries or spelt berries, other ancient wheat varieties that are not as common, may likely work too, but they are not as quick to cook.

      This is a long answer to your question, but I hope I’ve given you an appropriate and/or helpful response. In a nutshell, I’d say I love to find ways to integrate a variety of whole grains into my life when possible. Sometimes in my home a grain is on repeat several weeks in a row, but if I can, I like to find ways to experiment and use other grains. Although I love the plump and chewy texture of farro, I wouldn’t say I always prefer it over other grains. I just use it a lot because it tastes good, is versatile, and is quick to make. Again, to avoid having too many grains at one time I often rotate them, trying farro as my grain of choice for 1-2 weeks, followed by others like farro or quinoa for another week or two. It really depends on what I plan to cook and what I may already have in hand. I hope that helps! If not and you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks again for commenting and asking a great question.

      1. Pleasure and Ta. I was just asking out of curiosity really. I’m like you u like to rotate all the food we eat so that we get a good variety of nutrients. Plus it makes meal time way more interesting.

  2. I love farro but am currently enjoying freekeh for a change, and haven’t cooked quinoa for at least 3 months! I agree that it’s good to change it up to keep meals interesting. The recipe sounds delicious!

    1. Thank you. I know what you mean. I like to switch up my grains every now and then too. We like farro a lot, especially in soups, but I usually rotate between farro, quinoa and barley. And every now and then I’ll cook freekah, spelt berries or wheat berries (we’re currently enjoying them now in oatmeal/porridge, soup, and in salad).

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