There is much confusion about what farro is. There seem to be 3 different types, emmer, spelt or triticum monococcum, The Italians sensibly call them farro grande, farro medio, and farro piccolo (big, medium and large). It is said to be the earliest cultivated grain (since Neolithic times) and is very healthy. Etruscans and Roman Legions thrived on it. It has weaker glutens so is more easily digested. I always feel good after eating it and prefer it to rice. I make a farrotto with it (a risotto without the rice). It is less delicate to cook and does not need butter and parmesan. Being in Tuscany traditionally the recipes do not use much butter and cow’s cheese. We are in the Olive Oil and Sheep cheese belt. Using Farro which the Etruscans use instead of rice (risotto is a northern Italian dish), seems more fitting.
You can combine it with almost any vegetable and I some time cook it together with lentils when everyone is hungry.
This is the basic recipe and I suggest a combination of Wild Mushrooms and Jerusalem Artichokes with a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley thrown over it. You can try your own blends.
Wild or Seasonal Mushrooms 300g
Jerusalem Artichokes 200g
Farro ‘Grande’ (20 mins cooking variety not 50 mins)
Flat Leaf Parsley
Seasoning and Olive Oil
Put farro on to cook – medium heat.
If you have dried mushrooms you can add boiling water to them and let them soak. This is a good broth for the farrotto. If not as above re ‘magic powder’ or stock.
Chop up mushrooms and slice Jerusalem Artichokes (I am a great believer in leaving skins on and just washing well) first index of little finger size.
Sautee gently in Potentino Olive Oil with a splash of Potentino Lyncurio (Pinot Noir Blush) for time it takes to cook the farro – about 20 mins.
Chop garlic do not crush. Different oils are released if you crush. Skin and rough chop. Add after about 10 mins.
Add the dried mushrooms mix or stock gradually. Drain Farro but keep aside some of the water. Mix farro and vegetables together and cook until liquid has reduced. If it gets dry add more stock or some farro water. The farro’s consistency should be a little chewy and not like rice pudding rice.
Sprinkle the chopped flat leaved parsley on Farrotto, stir and serve. I believe in attention to the bright colour elements of a dish and the sensitive use of fresh herbs.
Jerusalem Artichokes are said to have a gaseous effluent effect so please bear this in mind.