Local Montana Farro: A Star Rising

Let's talk about farro for a moment.

Farro seed, still in the hull.

 Farro is a big, nutty wheat that's great for salads, soups, risottos and the like. It makes pretty great pasta too.

The stuff we grow and sell -- Prairie Farro -- is an ancient wheat from the Fertile Crescent that dates back to nearly 20,000 years ago. The grain has been discovered in archeological digs and in ancient tombs and is believed to have developed from crosses between wild grasses. It was likely harvested in the wild before people began to select the best plants for cultivation. Farro, known also as Emmer, is often sold pearled, so it has less bran on the kernel.We leave ours completely intact, so nothing has been removed from the kernel that would compromise any of the nutrients the grain has to offer. Its nutritional profile is similar to modern wheat except it is higher in protein, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. It is a versatile grain that can be used in breads, crackers, and salads.

Farro's star is rising, let me tell you. Of all our grains, it's the one people spot on our market table, run over and say, "I've been looking for this!"

The New York Times loves it, Saveur.com loves it, Gourmet loves it, even everyday Rachael Ray loves it.
Our first farro crop, 2009.

Since we started growing and selling it four years ago (btw, not to brag or anything, but Prairie Heritage Farm is one of the only local producers of farro in Montana. We sell direct to customers through our grain CSA farm share, at farmers markets and by special order. We ship too! Email farmer@prairieheritagefarm.com), I've been mostly using farro in soups and cold salads (like this one) and the occasional risotto (or, farrotto), but in the lastT few months, I've started exploring warm farro salads, especially with greens (because it seems like there is no. end. to the greens piling up in our house right now.)

My favorites so far have been this recipe and this recipe.

But I combined them to make this winner:

Warm Prairie Farro Salad With Baby Beets, Blue Cheese and Greens

1 to 1 ½ cup farro (not pearled)
1 bunch mustard greens (or arugula would work here too), chopped (2-3 cups)
1 bunch baby beets with greens
½ wedge blue or cambozola cheese
½ cup walnuts

3 Tbs red wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
  1. Rinse farro well. Add farro to pan with 2 cups water (for one cup, 2 cups water. For 1 ½ cups, 3 cups water.) Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the farro is simmering, separate the baby beets – cutting off the beet part, scrubbing and placing in a shallow pan (you're going to simmer them a little, just to soften.)
  3. Chop the beet greens a long with the mustard greens. (We used Mizuna, btw, but I think you could sub chard or kale here too.)
  4. Mix up the dressing and in a separate bowl, crumble the cheese and add in the walnuts. (You'll use the cheese/walnut mixture to top the salad at the very last minute.)
  5. Once beets are simmered (about 5-7 minutes) to your liking, add to large bowl with greens.
  6. Drain the cooked farro and add directly to the bowl of greens and beets. You want to just slightly wilt the greens with the heat of the farro. Stir quickly until the greens are soften as you like them.
  7. Fold in the dressing.
  8. Once the salad has cooled a little, top with the cheese/nut mixture and serve.


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