Farro Risotto Italiano

It was my anniversary yesterday, and since I celebrated 8 years of marital bliss last year in Venice, I thought I would try to re-create that experience in my kitchen.  9 years is quite an accomplishment, worthy of a delicious Italian meal!

I picked up a bag of this farro, barley, oat mixed grain mixture on the weekend at Costco, and since the package said you could cook it like risotto I did just that.   I completely ignored the cooking directions on the package, and got some inspiration from Deb Perelman’s One Pan Farro with Tomatoes.  The result…simply spectacular with tons of flavour.  And the beautiful thing is that it only took 30 minutes from start to finish, giving me time to enjoy a bottle of wine with the husband.

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You could probably make this with just barley, or just farro, but note that the cooking times for these grains depend on whether they are pearl, semi-pearled, or un-pearled.  Pearl will be the quickest cooking.  I started off planning to use Deb’s method of just adding everything to the pot and letting it simmer, but I quickly realized that my liquid to grain ratio was off and I needed more stock.  That’s when I decided to just go with what I know and finish it like a risotto.

Here’s my recipe for Farro Risotto Italiano, which I got 3 large entree servings out of.

You will need:

  • 2 cups mixed grains of your choice
  • 1 tetra pack (4 cups) of veggie stock (use chicken if you prefer or water if you have neither)
  • 1 white onion, sliced in half, and then thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes (omit or add more depending on what you like)
  • 1 cup diced roasted peppers (I use this method)
  • 1 large bunch arugula
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

My method:

Saute the onion for 4-5 minutes over medium heat in a bit of olive oil. Don’t let the onion burn!  Then add the tomatoes, oregano and chili flakes.  Saute until the tomatoes start to release some of their juices.  Then add half of the veggie stock.  Bring that to a boil and add the grains.  Stir it occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of your pan (best done in an enamel coated dutch oven).  As the liquid is absorbed add more.  Keep stirring it, tasting from time to time to make sure the grains don’t overcook.  You want them to retain some bite.  The whole process from the time I added my grains took about 25 min.  Add small amount of liquid throughout the cooking process, because you don’t want your grains to be cooked and have a soup!

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When you’re all done, turn the heat off and add the peppers, cheese and arugula.  Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit of your favourite oil over top for additional flavour (my go to is white truffle).  Serve it in bowls on its own, with a caprese salad, or big hunks of bread.  You could also vary this dish by adding zucchini and basil and pine nuts instead of peppers and arugula.  The possibilities are endless.  Buon appetito!

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