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 Shiitake Mushrooms and Yellow Beets
Active Time: about 1 hour
Total Time: about 1 hour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 cup semi-pearled farro, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock (or mushroom stock for vegetarian version)
1 medium yellow beet, about 8 ounces, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese or feta, optional
1. Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, lightly season with salt, and cook until they begin to soften and release their juices, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the farro and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed. Add the stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer until the farro is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes.
2. While the farro is cooking, heat the oven to 400°F. Toss the beets, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Spread on a small rimmed baking sheet or in a baking pan and roast in the oven until the beets are tender and golden brown in spots, about 20 minutes.
3. When the farro is ready, stir in the beets, parsley, and black pepper. Serve garnished with additional parsley and crumbled fresh goat cheese, if using.