Farro. Isn’t that a city in North Dakota? That one in the movie with the grisly scene of someone disposing of a body in a mechanical wood chucker?

No, that’s Fargo.

Farro is, well, actually there is disagreement. Farro is certain grains of some species of wheat. After that, there are real regional differences. In Italy, the word farro can mean emmer, spelt ,or einkorn. Sometimes barley is considered faro. Further north in Germany, spelt is considered faro. In Switzerland, spelt is called dinkel but is their version of faro.

Rather than be confused, we can all settle on a couple of facts. Farro is not a common ingredient on American tables. And, farro is delicious. Cooked in water or better stock, farro becomes a grain of substance that can simply be eaten by itself. But the best use of farro is in salads where the nuttiness of the grain can be contrasted with vegetable flavors. In this recipe, fennel — another less utilized food — is an excellent complement for farro.

Try this salad as a recipe, and you may become a farro aficionado. This salad can be a main course or the perfect side dish for just about any protein main dish: chicken or beef, roasted or barbequed.

Feel free to adjust proportions here and to add or subtract ingredients. For example, if you are not a fennel fan, go with cucumbers and served the salad chilled.

Farro Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • 1½ cups farro
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • ½ cup minced parsley,
  • 3 medium carrots, julienned
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, diced
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata or other brine cured black olives
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Bring the water or stock, farro and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20-25 minutes. Drain the farro and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, onions, carrots, olives and parsley to the farro and stir to combine.

In a small bowl combine the garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir gently to combine.

Sources: A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop and Wikipedia