I love breakfast, just not in the morning. Coffee with cream or a café au lait are plenty for me. But come lunch or dinner, I’ll happily dive into scrambled eggs with smoked lox on a bagel or a bowl of granola and yogurt. When I was a kid, the best Sunday dinners were pancakes with buttery syrup or a steaming bowl of steel-cut oats loaded with brown sugar and cream (eaten on TV trays watching “The Ed Sullivan Show”). For me, such comfort foods are a sure line of defense against the wintry blues.
Seeking easy, nutritious, breakfastlike options, I’ve been going with the grain. Farro fits the bill. It’s slightly chewy with hints of almonds and cinnamon and can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator about a week. Once cooked, it’s a great addition to soups, salads, side-dish pilafs, casseroles and stews. But for sheer childish joy, I like farro straight up or loaded with fresh and dried fruit, nuts, yogurt and, yes, heavy cream.
Farro is an ancient grain that hails from the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent. It has been found in the tombs of Egyptian kings, it fed Roman gladiators, and in Italy today it’s as popular as aborio, the risotto rice. Most markets sell “pearled” and “semi-pearled” farro, using a process to remove some of the bran for speedier cooking.
Our farmers are adding it to their crop rotations, so you can find locally grown farro in the bulk section of most natural food co-ops.
Farro is my favorite breakfast (but served later in the day).
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.
Breakfast Farro (any time of day)
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: This hearty, comforting breakfast dish is just right for sleepy Sunday mornings. Make it a day ahead, then warm it up while you fetch the newspaper. It will be ready when you are. From Beth Dooley.
• 2 c. water
• 1 c. farro
• 1-in. piece cinnamon stick
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
• Pinch of salt, to taste
• 1 c. chopped apple
• 1/2 c. dried cranberries
• 3 tbsp. honey or maple or brown sugar, to taste
• Yogurt or heavy cream, optional
To make the farro, bring 1 cup water, farro, cinnamon stick and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the farro is tender but slightly chewy, about 15 to 25 minutes for pearled or semi-pearled farro, or 35 to 40 minutes for the whole-grain variety, checking occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick and drain off any extra liquid. Season with a pinch of salt.
Serve the farro warm or at room temperature topped with the chopped apple, dried cranberries, honey and yogurt or cream.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 188 Fat 1 g Sodium 32 mg
Carbohydrates 45 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 15 mg
Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 5 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 ½ bread/starch, 1 ½ other carb.