How to eat like the ancients: Italian farro salad

How to eat like the ancients: Italian farro salad: Farro has been around for a very long time and was actually eaten in ancient Roman times, when it was considered a food for the poor.

Farro is a grain like spelt or barley and has been around for centuries. It was eaten in ancient Roman times, when it was considered to be a poor food. However, farro is full of protein and is extremely versatile.

Once prepared, you can use farro as an addition to salad, soups and even make burgers from it! Here we have a simple Ponzese recipe for what we are calling a Farro Salad, a combination of farro and roasted vegetables served to me as an antipasto.

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If you are using whole grain farro like many Italians do, you will need to soak it overnight. If you use semi-pearled or pearled farro, soaking will not be necessary. Our recipe will use whole grain farro:

Italian farro salad – Serves 4 – 6

  • 250 grams (1.5 cups) whole grain farro (or barley)
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken, fish or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 black olives, stoned and sliced into small pieces
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced thinly and into small pieces
  • 1/2 red pepper, de-seed and sliced thinly into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  1. First prepare the farro by placing it into a bowl of cold water, cover it and place it in the fridge for between 8 – 10 hours.
  2. Pour the farro into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool water until the water runs clear (if you use semi- pearl or pearl farro, you will need to rinse it first).
  3. Allow it to drain until dried.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until the shallot begins to soften.
  6. Add the farro and stir to coat the grains in the oil.
  7. Add the pepper and pour 1/3rd of the stock over the farro and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Continue adding stock and stirring (much like making a risotto), until all of the stock has been absorbed, checking the seasoning as you do.
  9. Turn off the heat and add the cherry tomatoes, olives, pepper and lemon zest.
  10. Stir everything well to combine and place a lid over the pan for 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer to molds, press lightly before turning out onto a serving dish.
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