Also known as emmer, this grain, which is actually an ancient variety of wheat, originated in the Middle East. It was ubiquitous during the Roman Empire, and has since played a vital part in Italian cuisine — although it's just now starting to make an appearance elsewhere. Farro (which is largely grown in northern Italy) is high in fiber and low in gluten. It has a nutty, earthy flavor, and a supple texture that's chewy on the outside, with a firm center.
When purchasing farro, opt for the semi-perlato, or semi-pearled variety, which has more bran intact than its pearled counterpart. Simmer it for 35 minutes, then add it in place of other grains in your favorite dishes. (The grain, which doubles in volume when cooked, can be eaten hot or cold, and keeps in the refrigerator for three to four days.) Add farro to soups, stews, or salads, or experiment with dishes such as farro fried rice, hot cereal, or baked farro risotto. Where have you spotted farro lately?