Farro and Penne Pesto with Asparagus

Farro and Penne

For the second week in a row, I have another idea for adding the lovely asparagus into a dish! It is a delightful and versatile vegetable that at times I can’t get enough of.   They even have it at the resort we are visiting this week for spring break so I continue to get my fill.  However, in this dish I don’t want to minimize the introduction and addition of the great whole grain, Farro.  I prepared this last week before we left town and it was a winner.

Farro is one of the world’s oldest grains, yet not many people outside of Italy know much about farro nutrition. The word farro comes from the old Latin word farrum, which means “a kind of wheat.” This grain originates in the Tuscany region of Italy, where they have been growing it for thousands of years. Hence I thought this would be a great addition to a pasta dish.

Whole farro provides substantial protein and a huge dose of selenium, which some studies indicate is a protection against cancer. Even though it has already been known by some in Western Europe and the US, it is only now becoming popular. It is also sometimes ground into flour for bread . Farro has a nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture.  It can be eaten any time of the day – cooked like oatmeal for breakfast, in salad for lunch and as demonstrated in this recipe for dinner.

It blended well with the penne’s texture.  The farro is cooked slightly longer than the penne but without difficulty.  With some slightly crunchy, sweet asparagus in a lovely pesto along with the capers, this is a fast and healthy dish that I hope you try.

Farro and Penne Pesto

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 4


  • 2 cups of whole grain penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup of farro
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of asparagus spears
  • 4 tsp of capers
  • 1 tbl minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 tbl onion powder
  • 2 tbl of fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbl pesto sauce
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano


  1. Cook the farro in 3.5 cups of vegetable broth for 5 minutes; add your penne for the last 10 minutes.
  2. This amount of cooking time should yield al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.
  3. In another pan, sautee the red onions and garlic for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
  4. Add the asparagus and sautee for 15 minutes.
  5. Fold in your farro and penne. Turn to a low heat.
  6. Add your onion powder, parsley, sea salt, pesto and capers.
  7. Mix well and add the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  8. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.


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