Farrotto is simply a dish that uses farro in place of rice and cooks it in the same fashion as you would to make a traditional risotto dish. Farro is much different from rice as it has a nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture (if cooked properly) so while risotto pairs well with everything from seafood to roasted meats, farrotto is best served with heartier dishes such as grilled or roasted poultry or meats. Farro, is an ancient grain belonging to the wheat family, and is also known as emmer wheat. Farro is sometimes mistaken for spelt, but they are two very different grains. Although this dish tastes great too, the best part of using farro in place of rice is the added nutritional benefits. Farro is high in fiber, magnesium and a number of important vitamins such as A,B,C & E. Although farro is much more readily available these days in health food stores, or even in the organic section of local grocery stores, if you cannot find farro in your area, you can substitute spelt or barley for this dish although the cooking times may vary and the taste will be a little different.
Because farro is a robust, resilient grain that can take hours to cook, most commercial farro has been pearled (like barley) to reduce its cooking time, and in fact that is the type of farro I used for this dish. Pearled farro will take about 25 to 30 minutes to cook, while regular un-pearled farro can take an hour or two to cook. If you can only find regular farro, and not the pearled variety, I recommend soaking it in water for a couple of hours before you begin to cook it. The cooking time for the farro is approximate as it depends on your specific brand of farro, or even how old your farro is, so taste often to ensure the farro is cooked thouroughly but remains just a little chewy to the bite.
I was gifted a number of spring vegetables from a friend who has an organic farm close to our farmhouse, and decided they would work perfectly in this spring farrotto dish. You can make this dish with any vegetables you choose (see my Mushroom Farrotto), but I’ve found in the past that asparagus, peas, and fava beans work really well with the nutty flavor of the farro. Although you could use grated Parmesan cheese in this recipe, I find the sharper flavor of Pecorino Romano cheese works better with the nutty flavor of the farro. I usually blanch a few extra asparagus tops to use as a garnish on my farrotto when serving as shown in the photos.
Deborah Mele 2012
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 1/2 Cups Farro
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 6+ Cups Low Sodium Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Cup Trimmed Asparagus Cut Into 1 Inch Pieces
- 1 Cup Shelled Spring Peas
- 1 Cup Shelled & Skinned Fava Beans1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Heat the broth in a saucepan and keep warm on low heat.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter and cook the onion until it is transparent and soft.
- Add the farro, and stir well coating it with the oil mixture and cook for a few minutes to toast.
- Add the white wine, and cook over medium heat stirring often until the wine has been absorbed.
- Begin to add a ladle of broth, stirring it into the farro, adding more as each ladle full gets absorbed.
- Continue to cook the farro in this fashion for about 20 to 25 minutes or until you have about five minutes of cooking time left. (The farro is just about finished)
- Add the peas, asparagus, fava beans and parsley and mix well.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for another five minutes or until the farro is cooked but still remains a little chewy to the bite (al dente).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Serve in individual bowls, offering additional grated cheese, and cracked black pepper at the table.