Risotto…such a luxurious guilty pleasure. It’s a creamy, decadent dish. One of the greatest things about risotto is it really is not hard to make. The number one rule is not to walk away. But less than an hour of doting on your risotto, bubbling away on your stovetop, will result in the magnificent bowl of warm, luscious food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you can stir, you can make risotto.
This time around, I am amping the awesomeness up with a little health kick that as it turns out totally rocks taste wise too! Farro, also known as emmer or spelt depending on where it is grown and who is doing the defining, is related to wheat but is more easily digestible and higher in nutritional value such as higher in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. It has a rich, nutty flavor, which is just gorgeous in risotto and pairs beautifully with mushrooms. The Italians calls this dish Farrotto. It’s definitely chewier than your standard risotto, but I really like that texture. It’s a completely satisfying dish.
Making risotto is a method…you can add any flavors you want. Here I’ve made a mushroom version dotted with sweet peas, tender artichoke hearts, and diced grilled chicken. And if you can find mushroom stock, use it. The depth of flavor in this one is out of this world and the color is beautiful! Such a fantastic dinner and leftovers are fabulous. In fact, farro risotto stands up better as leftover than standard Arborio rice risotto because it holds it’s texture.
So next time you are craving risotto, try this farro version instead. It’s healthier but just as tasty.
Mushroom Farro Risotto
A Girl and Her Kitchen
1 c farro
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 c dry white wine (could do red if you wanted)
4-6 c low-salt mushroom broth (can sub vegetable or chicken broth)
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
1 c artichoke hearts, chopped (if using frozen, thaw and lightly sauté with onion and salt to add flavor)
1 c dried wild mushrooms (about 1 oz), rehydrated and chopped
2 c cremini mushrooms, large dice
3/4 c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino (extra for garnish)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 c fresh parsley or basil, minced
1 Grilled chicken breast, diced (optional) (possible marinade before grilling: white wine, olive oil, dried thyme, salt and pepper)
Soak farro in cold water for 20 minutes, drain in a colander, and rinse well. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat, add farro, and simmer 20 minutes. Drain farro, then cool it by rinsing under cold water; set aside.
Coarsely chop mushrooms and set aside.
Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep stock warm over low heat.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom pan (i.e., dutch oven) over medium heat. When hot, add the diced cremini mushrooms and do not touch! Let cook for 3 minutes before moving them about. Lightly brown on all sides (about 6 minutes total) and then remove and set aside.
Add 1/2 cup stock to farro mixture; cook over medium heat about 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring semi-occasionally (less than constantly, more than sometimes…NOTE do not walk away from your risotto. A little attention goes a long way). Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next.