Easy Farro Risotto | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Risotto has a reputation for being dish that needs a lot of babysitting while cooking; you don’t have to stand at the stove for an hour to make this easy farro risotto! This delicious farro risotto is a vegan comfort food dish made with a few simple ingredients but packed with flavor.

easy farro risotto in a white bowl garnished with shredded parmesan.

As a plant-based dietitian, I am always playing around with new grains in recipes to try and add more variety to my diet. Quinoa and oats get a lot of attention, but farro is also a great grain that shouldn’t be overlooked! In fact, this farro risotto is a delicious way to add a new grain to your weeknight dinner routine.

Eating a variety of plants not only makes meals more interesting but variety is an important factor for improving your gut health. According to the American Gut Project, individuals who ate 30 kinds of plants per week had greater gut diversity (ie. a healthier gut microbiome).

This skillet farro dish is the perfect weeknight grain option. This 10 ingredient recipes takes just about 35 minutes on the stovetop. You’d never guess it’s vegan either since this plant-based farro risotto is just as creamy and delicious as a traditional risotto.

What is Farro?

Farro is a wheat varietal that has been popular for thousands of years in the Middle East and Mediterranean. This delicious ancient grain has a mildly nutty flavor and chewy texture that lends itself well to a variety of dishes from soups to salads. (We highly recommend this popular farro salad!) This farro risotto recipe is actually a riff on farrotto – an Italian dish which uses farro instead of rice for risotto.

Ingredients You’ll Need

farro risotto ingredients in small bowls on a white background.
  • Farro: we like this Bob’s Red Mill farro but any brand of farro will work for this recipe. You can also find farro in the bulk bins at some grocery stores if you want to buy a smaller amount.
  • Vegetable Broth: add flavor and moisture to this risotto by cooking it in vegetable broth. For the best flavor, try using a higher quality vegetable broth. We prefer the no chicken base from Better than Bouillon. (It’s so much more convenient to keep this concentrated paste in the fridge vs store cartons of broth in our small condo pantry.)
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: use the ones packed in oil that are sold in a jar. I think the flavor of the oil packed ones is so much better than dried; plus, they are much easier to chop up. We love the sweet-savory flavor that the sun-dried tomatoes add to this healthier risotto made with farro.
  • Onion & Garlic: these aromatics help flavor the risotto.
  • Vegan Parmesan: a bit of vegan parmesan adds a creamy consistency and “cheesy” flavor to this risotto. We really like this vegan parmesan from VioLife.
  • Dry White Wine: adds some acidity and brightness to this dish. You can omit and use broth instead if you prefer.

How to Make Farro Risotto

Step One: In a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stove top, sauté the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme in unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil. Add the farro grains and sauté for a minute or two. Stir in the white wine and sauté until the wine has cooked off.

Step Two: add the warm vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, and cover with the lid. Simmer on medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes or until the cooking liquid is mostly absorbed and farro is tender or al dente. (Cooking time may vary.) Stir in the spinach and parmesan. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. If you’d like to add some heat, top with a pinch of red pepper flakes too.

Recipe Tips

  • Swap out the parmesan: if you can’t find a good vegan parmesan cheese, you could use a shredded vegan mozzarella instead or substitute with about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Of course, if you aren’t making this for a vegan/vegetarian, you can use regular dairy parmesan.
  • Try different veggies: I loved the combination of sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, but this creamy risotto could be adapted for other seasonal vegetables like wild mushrooms and peas or kale and cherry tomatoes.
  • Adjust liquid as needed: as your farro risotto cooks on the stove, I check periodically to give it a stir. If you find that most of the broth has cooked away before the farro is done, add more broth about 1/3 a cup at a time.
farro risotto garnished with shredded parmesan in a white bowl.

Health Benefits of Farro

Eating more whole grains, like farro, is associated with a host of positive health benefits. In fact, research connects whole grain intake with lower risk of many diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Packed with Fiber: Just 1/4 cup uncooked farro (about ½ cup cooked) provides 5 grams of fiber, according to the USDA. It’s recommended you aim for 28 to 34 grams of fiber per day, so adding whole-grain farro to a meal can help you reach that daily goal.

Rich in Antioxidants: Like other whole grains, farro contains a variety of antioxidants like carotenoids and tocotrienols. Antioxidants are beneficial compounds in foods that can prevent damage caused by free radicals. Although free radicals are produced naturally in the body, if left unchecked they can contribute to chronic inflammation and chronic diseases like heart disease or cancer.

Provides Plant-Based Protein: farro provides more protein per serving than many other different grains. So if you are on a plant-based diet and looking to up your protein intake, consider using farro as the grain in your meal. Just 1/4 cup of uncooked farro provides 6 grams of protein.

cooked farro risotto in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

FAQs

Is farro gluten free?

No, farro is not a gluten free food. Farro is a type of wheat so it does contain gluten. If you have celiac disease or a gluten-sensitivity, you’ll want to avoid farro. A couple of gluten free substitutes for farro are quinoa or millet.

What is farro risotto made of?

Farro risotto is made from many the same ingredients as a classic risotto like Parmesan, butter, and white wine, plus a vegetable or meat option. The main difference is that instead of arborio rice, farro risotto uses farro.

What does farro taste like?

Farro has a chewy texture and a mildly nutty flavor which lends itself well to a variety of sweet and savory dishes from soups to grain bowls to salads. The texture holds up well in the fridge or freezer, making it a good choice for batch cooking or meal prepping.

Can you replace rice with farro?

It depends on the dish, but you can substitute farro for rice in some dishes. We think the best dishes to make this swap with farro instead of rice would be: stuffed peppers, soup, or salad.

Did you love this recipe? Make sure to leave a ⭐️ rating and tag #dietitiandebbie on instagram!

farro risotto in a white bowl garnished with parmesan.

Easy Farro Risotto

Created by: Deborah Murphy

Course Entree, Side, Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Risotto has a reputation for being dish that needs a lot of babysitting while cooking; you don’t have to stand at the stove for an hour to make this farro risotto! This delicious farro risotto is a vegan comfort food dish made with a few simple ingredients but packed with flavor.

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Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth up to a simmer and set aside.

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme and sauté another minute or two.

  • Add the farro and toast for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the white wine and sauté until the wine is cooked off.

  • Stir in the warm vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender (but still slightly chewy).

  • Stir in the cheese and spinach. Cook another 1-2 minutes to wilt the spinach. Taste and add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Serve!

Notes

  • Store leftover risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. reheat in the microwave or on the stove. Add a splash of broth or water if needed to rehydrate when warming leftovers. 
  • Freezer: you can freeze this farro risotto in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 136mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1591IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg

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