What Is Farro, and How Do You Use It?

With a host of health-conscious grains to choose from, it's easy to lose track of what these foods are and what they bring to the table nutritionally. Farro is no exception, and despite its ascent to popularity in bowls, salads, and soups, its origins and what separates it from similar foods like quinoa can be puzzling. To clear up any confusion—and help you to make the most of this delicious food—we've put together a guide on what farro is, how to use it, and why you should add it to your culinary arsenal.

What Is Farro?

In a nutshell, farro is a type of hulled wheat and is considered to be an ancient grain, sharing the category with kaniwa, freekeh, and quinoa. Technically, there are three different types of farro: farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande. As anyone with a basic command of Italian can attest, these denominations refer to each grain's general size from small to large.

More specifically, these types refer to three distinct grain profiles: farro piccolo is categorized as einkorn, farro medio is emmer, and farro grande is spelt. The second of these, farro medio, is considered to be the best for cooking.

Texturally, farro has a similar consistency to barley, and it has a slightly al dente quality when properly cooked. It is not as soft as rice, though it shares a similar shape and virtually identical cooking instructions. The flavor is neutral but slightly nutty, which makes farro ideally suited to an array of meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes.

One of the most common misconceptions about farro is that it is gluten-free. While this is not the case, farro does have a rich nutritional profile, and is a good source of dietary fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It also has more protein than many grain, which makes it a satisfying base for a variety of entrées and salads, both hot and cold. Overall, farro is a healthy, versatile grain that’s well worth keeping on hand, especially if you find yourself getting burnt out on rice.

Now that you know what farro is, check out these five healthy farro recipes to transform your culinary agenda this week.