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.
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. The texture of cooked farro is pleasantly toothsome; not chewy the way you might expect a whole grain kernel to be. Plus it doesn’t take forever to cook — just 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 grilled shrimp skewers.
farro risotto with cannellini beans, basil and parmesan
Yield 4 servings
- 1 1/4 cups farro
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
- 1 (14 oz) can crushed or chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- 1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (14-ounce) 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 — when the grains are plump with a slight resistance in the center — 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.
Courses vegetarian main dish
Hi there! I’m Karen, a mother of two and a professionally trained cook certified in holistic nutrition.
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