Creamy Farro with Mushrooms

Two white bowls of farro risotto with mushrooms.

Some of my most poignant memories come from risotto: I can picture the glistening grains rippling outward on a big plate like high tide edging up to the sand. Dipping in, tasting that delicate balance between creaminess and chew before diving headfirst into spoonful after spoonful.

Why would I ever want to mess with that?

To make risotto, short-grain arborio (or carnaroli) rice is cooked slowly under gradual additions of liquid until it releases starch and softens into something transcendent. While my love for traditional risotto is resolute, my relentless curiosity required me to challenge this gold standard.

I wondered if it was possible to attempt this water-into-wine method with other grains. The answer came to me quickly, on a weeknight with a pantry full of farro and a craving for something I remembered fondly. Turns out, farro can be cooked exactly like short-grain rice to shockingly delicious, comparably creamy results. 

Let’s make creamy farro with mushrooms

Farro risotto is chewier than the traditional kind, with bigger grains that turn toasted-golden and plump when hydrated with hot vegetable stock. The flavor is more assertive; farro risotto is nuttier and deeply savory like whole wheat pancakes cooked in butter, or peanut sauce drizzled over fried rice. 

Farro risotto’s creaminess is more restrained, but no less sublime, than typical risotto. It weaves throughout the grains and holds them together in a soft bundle that breaks apart as it melts in your mouth. It’s vegetarian weeknight dinner magic.

It just needs a texture contrast. This time of year, when every other vegetable hides under forbidding layers of snow, golden-brown mushrooms are the perfect craggy, crispy pairing to smooth, undulating grains. 

Mushrooms amp up the umami of this winter farro salad even further, so it needs something quieter to balance the assertive flavors. A flurry of fresh herbs and a finale of lemon juice brings the flavors to their feet as the curtain closes. 

Served in warm bowls with extra fresh herbs on top for the truly winter-weary, it’s a hearty weeknight dinner that’ll make a lasting, delicious memory.

Creamy Farro with Mushrooms

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Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes

Farro risotto is the creamy, healthy, umami-rich alternative to the classic recipe that deserves a spot in your vegetarian weeknight dinner rotation.

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb mushrooms, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth mixed with 4 cups water, simmering
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, or a combination), finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (from about ½ a large lemon)

Instructions

1

Heat a large, heavy pot on medium. Add 1/4 cup olive oil. Working in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, cook the mushrooms and shallots until tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch. Resist the urge to stir them too much when cooking, which will prevent proper browning (and browning = flavor!) Transfer to a large plate, season with salt.

2

Turn heat down to medium-low; add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the farro and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat in the oil, and toast until farro starts to smell a little like fried rice, 3-5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the hot broth/water mixture. Simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add 1 more cup of broth and cook until liquid is absorbed again, about 5 minutes more. Continue adding 1 cup broth every 5 minutes until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 10-15 minutes more. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.

3

Off heat, stir the mushrooms and shallots into the farro and, if it seems dry, another splash of broth (it should still be a little brothy before serving). Stir in the Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and as much pepper as you'd like. Taste (again!) and adjust seasonings if needed.

Nutrition

  • 483 Calories

Notes

*Read your farro's package directions for the best estimate of the cooking time. The brand I used called for 20-25 minutes, so that's what I call for in this recipe, but farro cooking time can vary widely. Tip: Set one timer for 20 minutes (or the total cook time of the farro), and use another timer to go off every 5 minutes, when you should stir the farro and add more stock. Mushroom farro risotto is great with earthier reds, like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo, or fuller-bodied whites, like lightly oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. It's assertive flavors can also stand up to Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti.

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