Creamy Farro with Roasted 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.

Vegetable stock getting poured into a skillet of farro risotto.

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 farro risotto

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.

A sheet pan of roasted mushrooms.

It just needs a texture contrast.

This time of year, when every other vegetable hides under forbidding layers of snow, roasted mushrooms are the perfect craggy, crispy pairing to smooth, undulating grains. 

Roasted on a sheet pan while the farro comes together on the stovetop, meaty mushrooms are an easy, welcome addition. 

A skillet of farro risotto with sour cream, parmesan and parsley.

Mushrooms amp up the umami of this dish even further, so it needs something quieter to balance the assertive flavors. 

That’s where a large dollop of sour cream makes a stunning, last-minute appearance. 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 Roasted 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

  • 1 pound mushrooms, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups farro
  • 8 cups simmering vegetable stock
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, or a combination)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the mushrooms on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, do not salt.

2

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender and golden-brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat in a 12-inch skillet with high sides or a large Dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic, season with 1 tsp salt, and sauté for 5 minutes until softened.

4

Add the farro and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring to coat the farro in the oil. Drizzle with additional oil if the pan seems dry. Once the farro starts to smell a little like fried rice, add 2 cups of the stock and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Be sure to taste along the way; you may need to add more salt depending on the type of stock you use. Continue to cook the risotto over medium heat for 20-25 minutes total (*see note), stirring in 1 cup of hot stock whenever the liquid is absorbed (every 5 minutes or so) until the farro is just shy of al dente (you're about to cook it a little more).

5

Add the roasted mushrooms to the farro, more stock if it seems dry, and stir until well-combined. Simmer for 3 minutes to combine the flavors. Off heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, sour cream or yogurt, and lemon juice. Taste (again!) and adjust seasonings.

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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