Whole-grain comfort food.
I am a farro true believer. Less familiar than, say, rice or pasta, farro boasts all the satisfying goodness of a starchy side, but with the added boost of texture, nutty flavor, and a whole-grain seal of approval. There are many good ways to prepare farro. But my absolute favorite is this creamy parmesan farro recipe: a stovetop dish cooked with garlic, onion, and broth, finished with cheese and fresh parsley.
What Is Farro? Is Farro Healthy?
Farro is an ancient grain filled with health benefits. Farro describe either einkorn, emmer, or spelt ancient wheat grains. Emmer wheat farro is the most common type of farro in this part of the world.
Like other whole grains, farro boasts several important health benefits absent in processed, simple grains or starches like plain pasta or white rice (both of which I love — don’t get me wrong). Chief among farro’s health benefits:
Now widely available in most supermarkets, farro is very easy to cook. In its simplest form, farro gets cooked in a pot with lightly-salted liquid (water, broth) until soft but still al dente, the liquid absorbed into the grain.
But the better way to cook farro — like here — is to incorporate other ingredients into the pot and let it all cook together to creamy deliciousness.
Origin Story: Inspired by a Favorite Brooklyn Restaurant
One of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn (and therefore, in general) is Frankies Spuntino. Situated in the far reaches of Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Frankies is the type of Italian home-cooking restaurant you can wander into any time of day and get an honest bowl of unpretentious dishes. Think: escarole and beans, gnocchi marinara, meatballs.
Once upon a time, Frankies served a small, unassuming side dish: a bowl of hot farro cooked in broth with generous amount of butter, cheese, onion, and a bit of parsley. Alas, the farro went off the menu at some point, seemingly never to return.
Haunted by its absence, I set about trying to recreate it at home. Happily, Frankies’s food veers uncomplicated, so I was able to construct a version at home that is every bit as tasty and satisfying.
Recipe Notes: Creamy Parmesan Farro Recipe
This farro recipe is very straightforward. The directions are essentially to put everything in a pot and cook it, then fold in some butter, cheese, and parsley. Easy enough. But a few tasting notes will ensure that this achieves real greatness.
- The finished consistency should be creamy, and maybe even slightly broth-y. The finished farro should be soft, but still a little al dente.
- The grated cheeses contain a fair amount of salt, so do not adjust the final seasoning until the cheese has been added. This recipe calls for a combination of Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino-Romano. But if you choose one, go with the pecorino.
- The parsley may appear superfluous. It is not. The minced parsley brightens the deeply savory, even umami, quality and adds a welcome pop of color.
Enjoy this ultra-satisfying new side: inspired by a Brooklyn restaurant, now in your home kitchen.
More Simple, Satisfying Italian:
Creamy Stovetop Parmesan Farro
- 1 1/2 cups farro
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock (I like Swanson's)
- 1 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste (I usually add a little more)
- 1/2 cup loosely-packed minced parsley, leaves and stems
- fresh-ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the farro and garlic. Toast the farro for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often to coat in oil and cook evenly.
- Add the stock, kosher salt, and 1 cup cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the farro is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, about 12 turns of fresh-ground black pepper, and the minced parsley. Add the two cheeses, reserving a generous tablespoon of each for garnish. Taste for seasoning.
- Spoon into bowls and served, topped with the remaining cheese and a little more parsley, if desired.