Classic Italian comfort food, meet breezy summer vacation. This is Farro Risotto, and it is bursting to be your garden-fresh, leftover-friendly, let’s feel fancy without actually being fancy dinner, side dish, or lunch. Oh, and if you eat this for breakfast, I promise, I will not judge.
A less-work, more-wholesome twist on regular risotto, farro risotto is
- 100% whole grain
- Packed with fiber, iron, protein, and magnesium
- Ultra-creamy thanks to a nutty, salty Parmesan cheese
- And tastes fabulous when served warm and at room temperature (we enjoyed round one for a cozy dinner on our porch, then I packed up the leftovers to take with us to an outdoor picnic with friends)
To anyone who has been intimidated by risotto: this farro risotto is for you.
Farro risotto (aka, farroto. <—I find this word fun to say) is simpler to make than traditional risotto (although this Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash is pretty simple too) because it requires less tending on the stove (as in, you ignore it for large portions of the recipe cook time).
Further helping our cause: because farro is firm and nutty, it’s far more forgiving.
Farro Vs. Risotto
There are several differences between farro risotto and regular risotto.
- The key one, as its name suggests, is that farro risotto uses farro instead of the traditional arborio rice.
- Traditional risotto is made with arborio rice, Parmesan, butter, and white wine, plus any other vegetable or meat option you care to stir into it. It’s not difficult per se but does require a certain level of babysitting.
- I adore risotto (especially this Beet Risotto). It’s rich, creamy, decadent, and indisputably delicious. However, it’s also kind of a pain, and the sort of thing I prefer to make for special date-night dinners.
- Farro risotto, on the other hand? It is much more simple, AND it’s healthy too!
5 Star Review
“I will make it again! Farro is a wonderful, nutty alternative to arborio rice. The directions were excellent, as was the video. And the dish came out as described, creamy, but nutty, richly flavored.”— Holly —
How to Make Farro Risotto
If you’re looking for a fresh meal idea to brighten your summer spread, this make-ahead farro risotto recipe is ideal for packed school or work lunches, or a unique potluck dish.
- Farro. The nutty, chewy cousin to risotto is not only delicious but healthy and filling too (try it in the Honey Lime Tofu Stir Fry next).
What Is Farro?
Put most simply, farro is an ancient grain, dating back to Roman times. It’s a relative of modern-day wheat. Think of farro like little nuggets of yummy, flavorful grain goodness.
A few fun farro facts:
- Farro is 100% whole grain.
- It’s high in fiber, iron, and nutrients, and is a plant-based protein.
- Farro is nutty, pleasantly chewy, and super-duper tasty.
- It’s incredibly popular in Italy.
- You can find farro at any grocery store.
- There are OODLES of ways to use farro!
The farro brand I recommend is Bob’s Red Mill. I purchase Bob’s because the company prioritizes the quality and nutritional value of its products over quantity and profit, and I consistently have better results with Bob’s products than other brands I’ve tried.
Bob’s products are available in most grocery stores and on the Bob’s Red Mill website, and you can find its farro on Amazon here.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes. Ultra-convenient, these stand in for part of the chicken stock traditionally used for risotto. Canned tomatoes make the risotto especially flavorful and add that pretty red hue too.
- Fresh Cherry Tomatoes. Jewels of the garden, they burst with every bite.
- Garlic and Shallot. For a little zip and Italian pizzaz.
- Vegetable Stock. Our cooking liquid that allows the starches in the farro to slowly release, thicken, and become creamy.
- Parmesan. PLEASE grate it right from the block. The green can will not taste the same.
- Fresh herbs. I went for thyme, but basil, parsley, or a blend would all be tasty.
- Sugar. To balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. You can omit it if you prefer or if you are making farro risotto with something besides tomatoes.
- Saute the shallots until softened. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, then add the farro.
- Toast the farro until it begins to turn golden, and then add 3/4 cup of the broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until absorbed.
- Add remaining broth and the diced tomatoes in their juices. Then, bring the farro risotto to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes, adding more broth if it becomes dry at any point.
- Uncover, add the cherry tomatoes, and cook, uncovered, until the farro is tender.
If the risotto becomes dry at any point, splash in a bit more vegetable broth or water. The farro is ready when it is tender, yet maintains a good chew in the center (al dente).
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar, Parmesan, and thyme.
- Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan, then serve. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftover farro risotto can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight covered container.
- To Reheat. Warm the farro risotto in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through. You may add a few tablespoons of water or broth to the farro, if needed, to rehydrate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Farro is 100% whole grain, meaning it offers more protein, fiber, and nutrients than white rice. And fiber + protein = keeping you full and happy for longer.
Yes. Farro risotto is more hands-free than traditional risotto made with arborio rice. Once you start the farro cooking, you add the remaining liquid all at once and let the pot simmer mostly untouched. Unlike traditional risotto, there’s no constant adding liquid bit by bit. You’ll need to give it a stir about once every 15 minutes—a major upgrade from stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, as required by traditional risotto.
Whenever I’m asking you to try a new ingredient, I always want you to have multiple ways to use it. In addition to this farro risotto, farro is a delicious, hearty addition to salads (like this Italian Farro Salad, Strawberry Farro Salad, and Cherry Detox Salad). It is also a great addition to soups or used as an alternative to pasta or rice.
Farro Risotto with Tomatoes and Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot finely diced (or 1/2 small yellow onion)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked farro rinsed and drained
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth divided (or use chicken broth if you do not need the farro risotto to be vegetarian)
- 1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes or 1 pound grated fresh tomatoes
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- Chopped fresh basil optional
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Watch the heat and adjust as needed so that the shallot cooks but does not turn crispy and brown. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Let cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the farro, increase the heat to medium, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to coat the farro in the butter. The farro should begin to toast and the pan will be mostly dry.
- Add 3/4 cup of the broth and increase the heat to medium-high. Stir until it is absorbed. Add remaining broth and the diced tomatoes in their juices (reserve the last 1 cup of broth for later).
- Give the pot a big stir and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir the mixture vigorously every 15 minutes as it cooks, adding more broth if it becomes dry at any point.
- After the farro has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 15 to 20 additional minutes, or until the farro is tender throughout but maintains a good chew in the center (al dente), stirring it more frequently as the end of the cooking times nears. If the risotto becomes dry at any point, splash in a bit more vegetable broth or water.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar, Parmesan, and thyme. Cover the pot and let rest 5 minutes. (During this time, the farro will release additional starches and become more creamy.) Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm, topped with a sprinkle of fresh basil, additional thyme, and Parmesan.
- TO STORE: Leftover farro risotto can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight covered container.
- TO REHEAT: Warm the farro risotto in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through. You may add a few tablespoons of water or broth to the farro, if needed, to rehydrate.
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