Here’s the basic recipe for how to cook farro, a long-time staple of Italian cuisine, and a tasty alternative to pasta and rice.

Grains of uncooked farro on the counter and in a bowl in the background

Farro has been a staple of Italian cuisine for centuries, and its mild nutty flavor, distinctive texture, and endless versatility have boosted its popularity throughout Europe and North America as well.

Rich in fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins, farro is a healthy alternative to pasta and rice that can be combined with countless other ingredients to make everything from main dishes to desserts.

What is farro?

Often referred to as an ancient grain, the word farro (pronounced FAHR-oh) is actually a common term used for three ancient varieties of wheat. These varieties were originally cultivated in an area of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent which included the ancient region of Mesopotamia.

Much of the farro in today’s markets, however, is grown in central and northern Italy, and because it thrives in a high-altitude, barren environment, it’s usually free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Types of farro:

The way farro is processed after harvesting will make a difference in the cooking time and the way it’s prepared.

Farro can be either pearled (perlato), semi-pearled (semi-perlato), or whole-grain. Here is a brief explanation of the differences.

  • Pearled farro: Pearling is a common method of removing the farro’s inedible hull as well as the bran. This is the type of farro most frequently found in U.S. markets. It’s very convenient to use as all it needs is a quick rinse before cooking and it’s done in 30 minutes or less.
  • Semi-pearled farro: Semi-pearled farro has had the hull and some of the bran removed in processing, but it still retains some fiber. Since labeling on farro can sometimes be inconsistent, it’s easiest to determine if farro is semi-pearled by checking the cooking instructions on the package. If it needs a short soak prior to cooking or cooks for longer than 30 minutes, it’s semi-pearled.
  • Whole-grain farro: Whole-grain farro is hulled using a less abrasive process which leaves both the bran and germ intact. Whole-grain farro generally requires overnight soaking and about an hour of cooking time.

How to store farro:

Once opened, store semi-pearled and pearled farro in the freezer for up to six months. Whole-grain farro is a little more durable and can be kept tightly sealed in the pantry for a year or more.

More farro recipes:

How To Cook Farro

How to Cook Farro

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Here's the basic recipe for how to cook farro, a long-time staple of Italian cuisine, and a tasty alternative to pasta and rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Measure the farro into a colander and rinse in cool water.
  2. Transfer to a medium saucepan, add the broth plus enough water to cover the top of the farro by about one inch.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil for one minute.
  4. Stir, then reduce the heat to a moderate simmer.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally until the farro is al dente, 20 to 30 minutes total.
  6. Start testing for doneness after about 15 minutes and once the farro is cooked to your liking, drain any liquid that hasn't been absorbed and fluff with a fork.
  7. If serving hot, toss with olive oil or add some butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. If making a farro salad, rinse with cool water and set aside until ready to use.

Notes

Cooked farro should be covered and refrigerated and will keep for three to five days depending on the other ingredients included in your recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g

Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.