I love this time of year with its abundance of roadside stands just brimming with fresh produce. I picked up some sweet corn and added then to some tomatoes and cilantro growing on my deck. Pared it with the ancient grain, Farro – and came up with this wonderful sumptuous summer dish.
Eastern View: Grains like farro help to build bone tissue and muscle and give bodily strength and endurance. Ayurveda recommends having grains at each meal to provide adequate energy for the body. There are a variety of different grains, and each grain has a specific influence on each ayurvedic dosha. Vata and Pitta types can consume high quantities of grains, while Kapha types should have smaller amounts to avoid weight gain.
Wheat products such as farro are the best grains for balancing and nourishing. They help with lubrication, boost energy, and enhance physical strength and endurance. Wheat should be eaten often by people trying to balance Vata. People with a Kapha imbalance should reduce but not totally avoid wheat.
Western View: A very high level of fiber in farro makes it heart-healthy, good for digestion, and beneficial for preventing blood sugar or insulin spikes and dips. One 1/2 cup serving of farro has about seven to eight grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber, which is more than four times the amount in white rice or a slice of white bread!
Given all its fiber, farro is sure to fill you up, since it’s an unprocessed grain — meaning it has an intact bran and germ, the parts of the grain that provide nutrients, protein and fiber, which winds up swelling up in your digestive tract, keeping you satisfied for longer than refined grains.
Farro is beneficial for preventing constipation, clearing the arteries of plaque buildup, curbing hunger pangs, and supporting a healthy gut environment. Farro’s complex carbohydrates break down slowly, keeping your energy levels more stable compared to eating refined grains.
Like other 100 percent whole grains, farro supplies not only high concentrations of dietary fiber, but also resistant starch, oligosaccharides and antioxidants, including phenolic compounds that have been linked to disease prevention. (1) Studies show the more whole grains someone eats, the more protection that person seems to have against chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, in addition to obesity. (2)
Among farro’s different types of carbohydrates is a specific compound called cyanogenic glucosides, which have been shown to positively affect the immune system, lower inflammation, help regulate blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.
Farro contains multiple B vitamins, especially vitamin B3 niacin, which is important for metabolic health and breaking down or converting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from the foods we eat into energy. (3) B vitamins are also important for brain health, maintaining high energy levels, neurotransmitter function, and supporting the central nervous system.
Farro Risotto with Sweet Corn and Tomatoes (inspired by The New York Times Cooking)
- 3 ears fresh corn, husks, and silk removed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups pearled farro
- ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (about 6 ounces), halved
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro or basil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cob, cutting as close to the cob as possible. Set the kernels aside and reserve the cobs.
- Make the corn stock: Holding the cobs over a medium saucepan, use a spoon to scrape down the sides of the cobs to release any additional corn and juices. Break the cobs in half and add to the saucepan, along with 8 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes before starting the risotto. (Keep the stock and corn cobs simmering while you cook the risotto.)
- While the corn stock simmers, heat the oil and butter in a separate pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the farro and stir for 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Increase the heat to medium and gradually add the corn stock, about 1 cup at a time, to the farro mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, and adding more stock as the farro absorbs it.
- When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking, adding stock as necessary and stirring often, until the farro is tender, 10 to 15 more minutes. (You will use most — if not all — of the corn stock.) The risotto is done when the farro grains are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, cilantro or basil, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
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