Have you ever noticed an ingredient for the first time and then all of a sudden it’s everywhere? First it was quinoa and kale now it seems to be farro. I was first introduced to farro by an episode of Nigellissima, hosted by the lovely Nigella Lawson where I learned that it’s an ancient grain that was a staple of the Roman diet. I'm just nerdy enough to find that fun fact intriguing, but didn’t actually buy any until my visit to Kalustyan’s last fall when I happened across a package of their house brand.
For reference sake, it’s important to note that farro is sold in three different forms: whole grain, semi-pearled, and pearled. The form depends on how much of the outer hull has been polished away and the cooking time will vary dramatically. Whole grain takes at least 40 minutes of simmering, while pearled takes about half that long – so read your package carefully so you know which one you have and can adjust the expected cooking time. I think of it being something like oatmeal – old-fashioned oats vs. quick oats vs. instant.
Since my first brush with farro it seems like it’s popping up on menus – I recently tried versions at Maman and Hunter’s, both excellent – and in magazine recipe features. I admit, I’m not sorry to see all these new sources of inspiration since I’m fully on the farro bandwagon. I hope you’ll try it too and let me know what you think!
Mushroom Farro Risotto (yield: 2-4 servings)
8 ounces (3 cups) cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup ( 1 medium) yellow onion, diced
1 cup whole grain farro
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sliced mushrooms (caps and stems) and sauté until the onions turn golden and translucent, and the mushrooms are browned, approximately 10-12 minutes.
Sprinkle the whole grain farro into the sauté pan and gently stir to coat with the mushroom, onion and olive oil, about 2-3 minutes. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, and thyme to the pan and pour in the chicken stock.
Stir to combine the ingredients and bring the mixture up to a simmer, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer with the pan covered for 40 minutes until the chicken stock is absorbed and the farro is tender, but al dente.
Serve warm or room temperature with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Oh, yes! I used a large cutting board, chef’s knife, a 3 quart covered sauté pan, measuring cups and spoons, and a wooden spatula.
Mike and I are both pretty much obsessed with this recipe and with farro in general. The farro itself has a texture somewhere between wild rice, barley, and brown rice with a beautifully nutty flavor perfectly complemented by the earthiness of the mushrooms. We’ve been eating it both as a side dish, say with roasted chicken for example, and as a main course salad. My all time favorite is warm farro and roasted butternut squash over cold arugula dressed with a little vinaigrette. Delicious.