Classic Italian comfort food, meet breezy summer vacation. This is Tomato Farro Risotto, and it is bursting to be your garden-fresh, leftover-friendly, let’s feel fancy without actually being fancy dinner/side dish/lunch/if I eat this for breakfast, please do not judge.
This recipe is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill.
A less-work, more-wholesome twist on regular risotto, Tomato Farro Risotto is 100% whole grain, ultra creamy, and tastes fabulous both 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. It hit the spot for both occasions!
To anyone who has been intimidated by risotto: I want to stress that farro risotto is simple to make.
Farro risotto requires less tending on the stove than traditional risotto (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.
How to Make Farro Risotto
Or if you prefer, farroto. <—I find this word fun to say.
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. It’s rich, creamy, decadent, and indisputably delicious.
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!
There are several differences between farro risotto and regular risotto. The key one: as its name suggests, farro risotto uses farro instead of the traditional arborio rice.
So, 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.
How to Use Farro
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 (reader favorite), Strawberry Farro Salad (personal favorite), and Cherry Detox Salad (another reader fave).
- Stir cooked farro into soups.
- Use it as a fresh, yummy alternative to pasta or rice.
Why Farro Risotto?
I have two main reasons for using farro to make risotto instead of arborio rice.
- Farro is healthier than white arborio rice. 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.
- Farro risotto is more hands free. 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 the every 2 to 3 minutes required by traditional risotto.
Flavoring Farro Risotto
You can make farro risotto with almost any vegetable. Start the recipe by sauteing your veggie of choice, then add it back to the recipe at the end. Farro risotto with butternut squash is perfect for the fall, and I make farro risotto with peas and mushrooms year-round.
Since it is SUMMER at the moment, for today’s recipe I opted to celebrate tomatoes.
This recipe uses tomatoes two different ways:
- 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.
If you happen to have a plethora of fresh garden tomatoes, I am so jealous. Here’s how to swap those into the recipe instead:
- Use 2 cups diced tomatoes in place of the cherry tomatoes.
- To stand in for the canned diced tomatoes, puree fresh tomatoes in a food processor. Measure out a scant 2 cups, then use in the recipe as directed.
To give farro risotto fabulous flavor, finish the recipe with:
- Plenty of 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.
- A tiny pinch of 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.
If you’re looking for fresh meal ideas this summer, make-ahead recipes you can bring for lunch, or a more unique potluck dish that will receive rave reviews from your friends, this Tomato Farro Risotto is superb!
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 Bob’s Red Mill Organic 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 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.
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I am sharing this post in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!