Whole grain, no-fuss Italian farro risotto with tomatoes, cannellini beans and fresh basil makes a great vegetarian main dish or side.
Shhh – this farro risotto is a streamlined version of the traditional one, which, according to the rules of Italian cooking, should always be made with short grain Arborio rice and stirred attentively throughout the cooking process.
Italians are picky about these things, so I just wanted to put that out there.
Instead of needing constant attention, the farro is cooked separately, then it’s stirred in a skillet with tomatoes, cannellini beans and parmesan cheese.
How healthy is farro?
Farro is a great whole grain to add to your pantry.
It’s an ancient variety of wheat that looks a lot like short grain brown rice or barley, but with a lot more character.
When you want something a bit healthier than plain white rice, farro is there for you. The Italian grain is high in protein, fiber and minerals.
The texture of cooked farro is pleasantly toothsome — not chewy at all — and it has a delicious nutty flavor.
Plus farro doesn’t take forever to cook, only about 20 minutes.
The cannellini beans, basil and tomatoes in this recipe round out the dish, and make it an appealing choice for a vegetarian main dish. It’s also delicious as a bed for meat protein or seafood.
Farro Risotto with Cannellini Beans
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) farro
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
- 1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
- 1 14-ounce (400 g) can crushed or chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- 1 14-ounce (400 g) can cannellini beans, drained
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Cook the farro in a large saucepan of boiling water seasoned with 2 teaspoons salt and cook until done, or when the grains are plump with a slight resistance in the center, about 20-25 minutes. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining.
- In a 10-12" skillet or sauté pan, add the oil and butter over medium heat; stir in the shallot and cook until softened (but not browned). Add the garlic and chili and cook a few seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt 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.