I like to cook farro risotto-style for dinner on days when I don’t have the time or attention span to tend a pot the way risotto made with traditional Arborio rice wants a person to do.
Farro is a great whole grain to add to your pantry. It’s a lot like short grain brown rice or barley, but with a little more character. I like the texture of cooked farro; it’s kind of toothsome but not chewy the way you might expect a whole grain kernel to be and it doesn’t take forever to cook – about 20 minutes.
Sometimes we eat this as a vegetarian main dish, or I might put some grilled garlicky shrimp or chicken alongside.
2 cups farro
3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red chile
1 (14 oz) can crushed or chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Cook the farro in a large saucepan of boiling water seasoned with 2 teaspoons salt; check the farro after about 25 minutes. The farro is done when the grains are plump but there’s a slight resistance in the center. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining the farro.
- In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat; add the onion, garlic and chilie and cook until softened (but not browned).
- Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the cheese and beans, stirring to incorporate.
- Add the farro to the mixture, stirring gently; add more water if it seems too thick – it should be a little “saucy”. Scatter the basil over the farro and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional cheese at the table.