Farro or spelt as it is called in English, is quite popular nowadays but not long ago it was just one of many staple foods of the poor. It has a long story as it has been cultivated for about 8000 years and it is one of those foods that makes me feel part of history. Sometimes when I eat it (if I’m not too hungry that is) I like to think that this is the same food that the Romans ate and even though I really can’t picture it, it makes me feel like a link in this long chain of human beings that populates the earth since a long long time. It gives me a bit of a perspective on what I’m really doing here and now. That’s the beauty of food, it satisfies in so many senses!
Back to the spelt, I was reading this cookbook by Beppe Bigazzi who is a relatively well known personage because he participates in one of the few cookery programs that you can see on TV here in Italy. He is a quite particular person, he must be in his seventies and he is always disagreeing with every one on almost everything but he is very coherent and he has always his own opinion about everything which I find rather liberating. I don’t watch that particular show but I bought his latest cookbook which is called Oggi scegli tu the other day because I like his approach to simple and genuine food. And now I’m finally going to get to the point because in this book I found a quite nice recipe of Panzanella di farro which immediately caught my attention. Panzanella is, as many of you already know, a sort of salad made of fresh vegetables and stale bread that is soaked in water and vinegar, it is a perfect lunch on a hot day and a great way of using your stale bread. The peasants who were too poor to even have stale bread left over used spelt instead as it was something they usually had in store. And as often happens, now it is sold as a delicacy and served in fine restaurants…

PANZANELLA DI FARRO or SALAD WITH SPELT (adapted from a recipe in Oggi scegli tu by Beppe Bigazzi)

250 gr grains of farro or spelt
½ cucumber
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 fresh onion or several spring or green onions
½ yellow or red bell pepper
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp chopped basil
1-2 tbsp mild vinegar
Olive oil

– Boil the spelt in lots of salted water for 25-30 minutes.
– While it boils, cut the vegetables into pieces and grate the carrot coarsely.
– Mix it all in a large bowl together with the parsley and the basil.
– Add the vinegar and the salt and stir. Add as much or as little olive oil as you want.
– When the spelt is ready, drain it and let it cool and get dry on a big plate before you add it to the vegetables.
– Mix well and it’s ready to serve.

panzanella di farro