Farro is, by far, my favorite whole grain. It is versatile and nutty and perfect in soups, salads and or baked as a “pasticcio.” Although farro is showing up in fashionable restaurants and cooking magazines these days, this ancient grain dates back nearly 10,000 years, where it was cultivated in the Near East. Farro was brought to Italy after the Roman invasion of Egypt in 47 BC. Coined as “pharaoh’s wheat,” by Julius Caesar, this ancient grain is believed to have sustained legions of the Roman Army for years. Farro was the dominant crop in the Mediterranean for a long time, but was replaced in favor of “free-threshing” plants – less labor-intensive crops without a tough husk such as durum wheat. Although farro disappeared in most parts of the Mediterranean region, the grain was steadily cultivated in small pockets of central Italy, and has experienced a recent resurgence and renewed popularity due to its nutty flavor and myriad health benefits.
Farro is cultivated in the lovely village of Abbateggio, only 15 minutes from our family home in Abruzzo. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to to learn both creative farro recipes from friends who are local chefs and talented home cooks.
On Saturday, February 15th from 2 to 4PM, I will be doing a cooking demonstration at the Williams-Sonoma store on 59th Street off of Lexington Avenue (a few steps from Bloomingdale’s if you need further inducement!) in Manhattan. If you’re in New York City this weekend, please stop by to say hello and warm up with some farro dishes – I’d love to see you! The details are set forth below. And if you can’t make it, here are links to two of my favorite farro recipes from Abruzzo: