You know, I could just call this Farro with Shiitake Mushrooms and Beets, but Farrotto sounds much more fun. Farrotto? Yes, if you switch out the rice from risotto with farro, then you end up with farrotto, a grain steeped in stock – minus the requirement for non-stop stirring. Another difference from rice based risotto, is that farro has a pleasingly chewy texture, never succumbing to mushiness. Each nutty whole wheat grain maintains its shape, exuding earthy wholesomeness. You can’t help feeling healthy when you eat it.
Farro has an ancient pedigree, originating in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Also known as emmer, and compared to spelt, farro is a species of wheat, high in fiber and rich in protein and B vitamins. It’s delicious in salads, pilafs, breads, soups and stews. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s healthy, economical and delicious.
Farrotto with Shitake Mushrooms and Beets
Golden beets add a sweet and nutty complement to the earthy mushrooms and farro in this healthy, satisfying dish. Serves 4-6.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock (or water for vegetarian option)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 medium yellow beets, peeled, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Optional: Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or large saucepan. Add shallot and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté until they soften, 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir briefly until fragrant. Add farro and cook, stirring to coat the grains and prevent sticking, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock, soy sauce and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until farro is tender but chewy, about 20 minutes. (Add additional chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time, if necessary to achieve desired consistency.)
While the farro is cooking, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add beets and sprinkle with salt. Sauté until tender and golden brown, 6-8 minutes.
To serve, toss farro with the beets and parlsey. If using feta, sprinkle over the farro. Serve warm or at room temperature.