So Farro - So Great

So Farro - So Great

For meals that positively sing of goodness you can't beat grains. Overflowing with virtuousness and flavour, ancient grains have come centrestage on my recent mission to GLOW (see here in case you missed my earlier posts).  I have been experimenting with a wide range of grains and both my skin and body are reaping the rewards. 

Farro is one of my favourite finds and yes it is widely available now (in Tesco and other major supermarkets) so no excuse not to try it!  it has a deliciously full and nutty flavour and lends itself to so many recipes, or is great  just as it is cooked with some herbs and spices weaved in for uplifting richness.

The grain is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia and was one of the first grains used in the Mediterranean region, where it has been rediscovered and sits proudly on menus of top Italian restaurants,

Nutrient Powerhouse

Scientifically, farro is used to describe three different grains: Einkorn -  Emmer -  Spelt: None of them are gluten free. Before the anti-gluten brigade switches off - please also note that farro  is significantly lower in gluten than the typical wheat grain and is super high in both fibre and protein (similar to quinoa in fact) so is especially beneficial for vegetarians and those wanting to bump up their protein intake. [Now is not the time to  rant about the benefits or otherwise of gluten, but suffice to say that the vast majority of us do NOT have an intolerance to this protein-rich ingredient, despite believing  so. Experts say that the biggest problem is the over processing of wheat today - enough said, more to come in another post.]

Back to Farro.  The grain is a nutritional powerhouse - very high in fibre (approx 5gm per 50gm emmer farro - that is a lot I assure you!), packed with protein (with most of the essential amino acids) and rich in phytochemicals (which help protect and repair the body), B vitamins and  E, Iron, Zinc and other minerals. In all, a pretty comprehensive list of accolades! 

Farro can be used like barley in soups etc but it is most appealing in risottos and tossed with salads. The following recipes are both fab - the first I created myself for my new GLOW project and I am really loving the nutty taste and texture.... the second recipe is taken directly from the Sainsbury's recipe collection.

Farro and three-bean salad with goats cheese

 My Farro & Bean Salad

My Farro & Bean Salad

Serves 4 as a deliciously healthy lunch or supper 

You need:

250g (1 large cup approx) roasted Farro 

750ml water (3 large cups approx.)

Large handful fresh mint leaves

150g frozen petit pois thawed

150g edamame (or broadbeans) thawed and peeled - if not already

200g baby kale or baby spinach leaves

50g goats cheese or feta, cubed (optional)

½ avocado, stoned

5-6 cherry-sized tomatoes, halved

Handful fresh coriander (optional)

2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Handful chopped walnuts, optional

Juice ½ lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Here’s How

Rinse the farro and place in a medium saucepan with the water, mint leaves and salt. Cover and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes or until grain is tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, put edamame and peas in small pot of boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water (to retain colour and maximize nutrient content). Mix with farro. Add baby kale/spinach leaves. Drizzle lime juice and olive oil over salad and toss to combine. Slice avocado, tomatoes and goats/feta cheese and sprinkle over the top with pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts. For an added flavour hit use the Tahini dressing on page…

Pumpkin Farro Risotto with Sage & Pesto (Sainsbury's)

 Pumpkin Farro Risotto     Credit: Sainsbury

Pumpkin Farro Risotto     Credit: Sainsbury

For the risotto

  • 1 pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1½cm cubes (approx 600g)
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 350g farro
  • 100ml vegan cream sherry
  • 1¼ litres stock, made with 2 vegan stock cubes

For the pesto

  • 40g curly kale
  • 10g sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 45ml olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Toss the pumpkin in ½ tbsp of oil, then spread out on a baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes until tender and golden. 

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium-sized pan over a medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook for 6 minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden. Add the farro and stir to coat in the oil. Add the sherry and let it bubble, stirring, until it has almost evaporated. Add the stock, stir, lower the heat and then cover, leaving the farro to simmer for 20 minutes. 

Put the kale, sage, garlic and lemon juice in a mini processor and blitz until finely chopped. Continue to pulse, gradually pouring in the oil until you have a loose, vibrant pesto. Season, then cover and store in the fridge until needed.

Put ¼ of the roasted pumpkin in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Remove the risotto from the heat and gently stir in the pumpkin puree. Gently fold in the remaining roast pumpkin and season. Divide between four serving bowls and top each with a spoonful of the pesto.

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