Rice & Grains
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Hearty and filling, Italians love whole grains of all kinds. From corn-based polenta to rice, farro, buckwheat, and other ancient grains, Italian cuisine has been built on a solid foundation of grains of many types for centuries, dating all the way back to the Roman Empire.
Dense, creamy, and totally versatile, rice is one of the most eaten foods in the world. That’s just as true in Italy; in fact, Europe’s largest rice-growing region is the Po Valley in northern Italy. The fertile lowlands have the perfect climate for cultivating the versatile grain, with water flowing down from the Alps into a basin that stretches from Torino to Modena. The versatile grain has fans across the country, from saffron-scented risotto alla Milanese from Milan to tiella Pugliese, a paella-like dish from the southern “heel” of Italy’s boot. Discerning Italians know there’s a difference between rice varieties like arborio, carnaroli, and roma—and each has its pride of place in the Italian pantry.
Farro was originally cultivated in Mesopotamia and was carried back to Italy from Egypt by the Roman legion, and it has been a staple of the Italian diet ever since. A rustic form of wheat, it is sometimes known as emmer wheat in the U.S. It’s primarily grown in Lazio and Umbria, and can be used to make a creamy risotto-like dish known as farrotto. It’s also fantastic as a base for salads, or used to add heft to soups, like the traditional Tuscan zuppa di farro.
Polenta is a northern Italian staple, where it’s more popular than pasta! In addition to the creamy, semi-soft type commonly served with meat or vegetable ragus, polenta can also be cooled, sliced, then grilled or broiled; sweetened and served for breakfast; or used to bake toothsome, flavorful cakes.
Whether you’re looking to expand your cooking repertoire or simply stocking your pantry, shop our hand-picked selection of the best grains from across Italy and get ready to find a new favorite.