As Mr. C. is fond of saying – “hail, oh mighty pharaoh (or as we like to spell it) farro”! And why you might ask? Well – because farro (an ancient strain of hard wheat) is said to have been found in Egyptian tombs. (Sounds like a pharaoh to me!) But enough frivolity!

Emmer (farro) has been cultivated in the Fertile Crescent (the region in the Middle East which curves like a quarter-moon shape, from the Persian Gulf, through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and northern Egypt) and in Italy for over 10,000 years. Farro, which is just the Italian name for emmer wheat, has a delicate roasted nutty flavor and a distinctive chewy texture. It has a higher fiber and protein content than common wheat, is rich in magnesium, niacin, zinc, and B vitamins, and holds the distinct honor of containing the lowest glycemic index of all cereal grains. In addition, emmer farro just happens to be delicious. Ta-da!

So last time we were visiting Rick and Katie (Katie is Mr. Cs sister) in Winthrop, Washington, Katie served a side dish made with Bluebird Grain Farms Emmer Farro. We both absolutely loved the dish. So much so, that I had to go out the next day and buy a couple of packages to bring home with us. For information about retail locations in your area, visit www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com

So if you want to add some variety and nutrition to your side dishes, give emmer farro a try. And this recipe, which is my take on the recipe provided on the Potlatch Pilaf package is just amazingly delightful.

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion (I like Copra yellow onions the best)
  • 10 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence (try to use one without lavender)
  • 1 c. Potlach Pilaf* – from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Washington – for more information on this wonderful product go to their website noted above
  • ¼ c. dry sherry
  • 2 c. vegetable broth (I use 2 cups water and 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base)
  • 1/3 c. chopped toasted pecans, opt.

*or you can use ¾ cup split farro and ¼ cup wild rice

Heat the olive oil in a medium covered saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, and emmer and wild rice blend. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add the sherry and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove cover and stir in pecans. Adjust seasoning. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.