Italian Farro is delectable and easy to prep in advance, packed with colorful veggies and tempeh bacon. Tossed in light Italian dressing, this Italian farro recipe is simply a bowl of mealtime sunshine.
Recently, I've been fascinated with different grains. So, I experimented with cooking farro for my version of Italian Farro. At an Italian restaurant last week, I saw an Italian farro recipe on the menu that looked amazing, but of course, it wasn't vegan. So, I decided to make up my own vegan version of Italian Farro, which is a keeper.
The restaurant's Italian farro recipe contained oil, prosciutto, and cheese, which gave me an idea of how to veganize this delicious-looking dish. But, of course, most recipes can be veganzied regardless of their ingredients.
What is Farro?
Farro, a high-protein, high-fiber ancient whole-grain wheat, looks like barley, with a slightly more oblong and larger grain. Like barley, Farro retains a notable amount of chew when it gets cooked. Therefore, Farro and barley can be used interchangeably in most recipes. However, Farro is a wheat product and contains gluten, so if you follow a gluten-free diet, see the gluten-free options in the substitutions for Italian Farro.
Farro has a nutty flavor with a hint of cinnamon and a chewy texture, perfect for salads, soups, and sides. Like most grains, it makes a good base for dishes that layer flavors, such as protein bowls, as it takes on the character of a dressing or sauce.
How to Cook Farro
Although Farro can be prepared with water, I prefer cooking it in vegetable broth to give it a depth of flavor. As always, I suggest following the packaged instructions for the specific Farro you purchase because often, times vary based on the particular type of Farro purchased.
However, these instructions should help guide you if you need additional assistance:
- The ratio is 3 cups fluid to 1 cup farro. Again, I chose to use vegetable broth instead of water.
- One cup of Farro yields 3 cups of cooked Farro.
- Heat the vegetable broth (or water) over high heat in a saucepan until it is boiling.
- Add the Farro and a small amount of salt, and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium to maintain a vigorous simmer.
- Cook the Farro until it is chewy and tender — approximately 15 to 20 minutes for pearled Farro, 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled Farro, or 35 to 40 minutes for whole Farro.
- Drain the Farro completely through a colander or fine mesh strainer. Then, fluff the Farro with a fork.
- Then, transfer the Farro to the refrigerator because it needs to be chilled for this Italian farro recipe.
- Cooked Farro: A Farro grain looks and tastes like light brown rice. It has a complex, nutty taste with undertones of oats and barley. But lacking the heaviness of many whole-wheat grains, Farro tastes more elegant than earnest.
- Portobello Mushrooms: I used baby portabello mushrooms. Portobello mushrooms, also called portabella, are rich in flavor, and their texture is meatier and less spongy than button mushrooms.
- Tempeh Bacon: I make my own tempeh bacon, which is used in place of the prosciutto in the restaurant recipe. I cook the tempeh bacon ahead of time.
- Shallots: Shallots are extra special in that they are a bit sweeter than regular onions and offer an excellent, but not overwhelming, onion flavor to whatever they touch. They are incredible for sautéing and stir-frying and can also be braised or roasted in chunks or whole.
- Shaved Brussel Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are sweet, nutty, and smokey. They're similar in taste to cabbage, albeit milder. They're crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. When shredded, they take on the texture of cabbage.
- Italian Parsley: When it comes to Italian parsley versus curly parsley, Italian parsley wins in the flavor department and, as such, is a go-to for both professional chefs and home cooks. Italian parsley can be used as a garnish if you want the decoration of the dish to be more edible, but keep in mind that it will increase the flavor.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice provides a fresh citrus flavor to the Italian Farro.
- Garlic: Sauteed garlic is fabulous when combined with shallots and mushrooms in this savory dish.
- Farro is versatile and can be replaced in most recipes with spelt berries, wheat berries, and Kamut berries. If you want a gluten-free substitute, sorghum, brown rice, or oat groats will make good replacements in most recipes.
- Any mushroom works well with this recipe.
- Red onions are an ideal substitute for shallots in recipes.
- Shredded broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage can be used instead of shredded Brussel sprouts.
- Use bottled lemon juice when fresh is not available.
- Purchase premade tempeh bacon at the grocery store.
- If you don't like tempeh, try coconut bacon. Or, skip the vegan bacon altogether.
First, saute the garlic and shallots until they shallots are translucent. Then add the mushrooms and cook until brown. If they begin to stick, add a small amount of vegetable broth to release any stuck-on pieces.
Then, add the shredded Brussel sprouts and stir into the mushroom/shallot mixture. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring as the Brussel sprouts soften.
Next, add the chilled Farro. It is essential to chill the Farro, so it is firmer and doesn't overcook in the pan when combined with the other ingredients. Again, the goal is to warm it.
These grains are a force to be reckoned with. While both provide excellent sources of fiber and protein, Farro tops the charts and offers almost double the value compared to the same-size serving of quinoa. However, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids along with antioxidants.
Whole-wheat pasta, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, and Farro contain complex carbohydrates that limit inflammation.
Farro is an excellent source of fiber, iron, protein, and magnesium. With all of those nutrients in this little grain, it can provide many health benefits for your diabetes, heart health, or brain health.
- To shorten cooking time, soak Farro in enough water to cover (and a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to be even more effective) for several hours or overnight. Soaking also reduces cooking time and lends a more even texture to the cooked grain.
- Always boil tempeh before marinating it and cooking tempeh bacon. It removes the bitterness and allows the tempeh to soften to absorb the marinade.
- Tempeh bacon is sold in the grocery store pre-marinated. However, it must be cooked in a skillet or the oven and then cut into bite-sized pieces for the Italian farro recipe.
- I used oil-free Italian dressing, but you can choose any dressing you prefer. Also, I tried the recipe using ¼ cup of Balsamic vinegar at the end, and it tasted fabulous.
If you are looking for a fresh and delicious grain recipe, give Italian Farro a try! This savory bowl has you asking for more.
Other Great Vegan Entrees
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- Prepare Tempeh bacon in advance, cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Prepare the Italian dressing in advance or use balsamic vinegar or a dressing of choice.
Preparing the Farro
- Bring 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil.
- Stir in 1 cup of Farro.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and cover.
- Cook for 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the Farro to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes.
- Drain excess fluid from the Farro in a colander or a mesh strainer.
- Place the Farro in a container and refrigerate until chilled.
Cooking Italian Farro
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the garlic and shallots until the shallots are translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until brown. If they stick to the pan, use a small amount of vegetable broth or water. I used vegetable broth.
- Add the shaved Brussel sprouts and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring often, until the Brussel sprouts soften.
- Now add the chilled Farro. And stir into the other ingredients.
- Next, add the cooked tempeh bacon and stir.
- Add the juice of ½ of a lemon, and the chopped Italian parsley.
- Stir in 1/24cup of Italian dressing and stir. Or, add ¼ cup of Balsamic vinegar or dressing of choice. Stir to combine.
- Serve with additional parsley if desired.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- It is important to cook the Farro and transfer it to a refrigerator to chill so it doesn't overcook when added to the other ingredients.
- To shave Brussel sprouts use a hand grater or a food processor, or you can shred them by hand with a knife.
- Or, purchase a bag of pre-shredded Brussel sprouts at the grocery store in the produce section.
- When making tempeh bacon, always boil the tempeh before marinating it. This allows the tempeh to absorb the flavors of the marinade.
- As a shortcut, buy pre-marinated tempeh bacon at the store and cook in advance.
- I used oil-free Italian dressing, but plain balsamic vinegar works well also. Or, choose a dress you enjoy. You only need ¼ cup.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂