Farro is a “cousin” of spelt, and a grain so ancient that it is said to have sustained the Roman legions with its nutty flavor, chewy texture, and high fiber, vitamin, and protein content.
When I was growing up my mom would always bring back some from our visits to Nonna in Tuscany. Our friends in Venice would taste her soups or cakes with a combination of curiosity and suspicion: at the time, in fact, farro was used only in a few Italian regions, and mostly in peasant dishes. By the way, these are the same friends who were puzzled by her use of olive oil, which they considered a heavier and less healthy alternative to butter or margarine!
In more recent years, however, farro has made it onto the chic tables of all northern Italy , and even to the United States, where it flies off the shelves of gourmet grocery stores such as Zabar’s and Citarella’s.
More with Farro:
NYT’s Farrotto with Mushrooms
Lucullian Delights’ Chocolate Farro Cake