A Guide to Farro

Close-up of an overflowing bowl of farro

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Farro is a whole grain, much like other whole grains such as barley, quinoa, and wheat berries. Farro is a specific type of common wheat, but a few different varieties of wheat are sometimes called farro. Each of these different types of farro is a variety of wheat, so while farro is a whole grain, it is, never gluten-free.

Farro looks quite a bit like a more oblong and larger barley grain and has a similar taste and texture. Like barley, farro is still a bit chewy when cooked, rather than soft and mushy. If you like the chewy texture of barley, you will probably also like farro, but if you're used to eating rice, you may find this texture a bit oddFarro and barley can be used interchangeably in most recipes. 

Like quinoa, kaniwa, and freekeh, farro is a so-called ancient grain, which means that it's been around for generations, though it has recently surged in popularity. Farro comes in whole grain, semi-pearled, and pearled varieties.

Farro can be used in many ways. Check out this health-conscious recipe for Greek salad with farro, kale, and feta cheese for one idea.

Shopping for Farro

In the United States, farro is nearly always sold pearled, which means it needs less cooking time than whole, unpearled farro or semi-pearled farro, which is more common in Italy. Look for farro in the bulk foods section of well-stocked natural grocers and health food stores. Can't find farro in the bulk foods section? Bob's Red Mill also carries packaged farro, which some grocers stock either along with other whole grains, in the baking section, or occasionally with other whole grain breakfast cereals.

Nutritional Value of Farro

Farro gets an A-plus nutritional rating. It's nearly fat-free and completely cholesterol-free, making it a heart-healthy choice and perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Farro is a great source of iron and is extremely high in fiber. 

One-fourth cup uncooked farro contains:

  • Calories: 200
  • Calories from fat: 15
  • Total fat: 1.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Potassium: 0mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 37g
  • Dietary fiber: 7g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Vitamin A: 0 percent of the daily allowance
  • Vitamin C: 0 percent of the daily allowance
  • Calcium: 2 percent of the daily allowance
  • Iron: 10 percent of the daily allowance

How to Cook Farro

Like other whole grains, farro is super easy to cook on the stovetop, though you might prefer to cook it in a rice cooker or even a pressure cooker for convenience.

Most people recommend soaking farro overnight to shorten the cooking time. But if you can't do that, it's generally useful to soak farro for however long you can, whether it's 30 minutes, an hour, or longer. Cook farro in a 1-2.5 or 1-3 ratio. That is, for each cup of dry farro, you'll want to add 2 1/2 cups or even three cups of water or vegetable broth. 

Here's how to cook farro on the stovetop:

Bring 2 1/2 or three cups of water to a boil on the stovetop. Add the farro, cover, and allow it to simmer. If you've soaked the farro overnight, it'll be al dente in about 10 to 15 minutes. If you haven't soaked the farro, you should start checking for doneness after about 25 or 30 minutes.