Surely, you've heard of risotto. Well, when you switch out the rice in risotto with farro, you end up with farrotto. Like rice, the farro grains steep and simmer in a stock, but, unlike arborio rice, there is no need to stir the grains nonstop, which is great for a busy cook. Farro grains have a hearty, chewy texture without the starch found in rice. This means that it won't succumb to mushiness, and each nutty whole-wheat grain maintains its shape while cooking. You can't help but feel healthy when you eat it, and its sturdy wholesomeness makes it an especially satisfying winter dish.
Because farro is so hearty, it teams up nicely with equally earthy ingredients. Umami-rich shiitake mushrooms and sweet, nutty yellow beets are perfect accompaniments to this hefty side dish. For an even more substantial meal, you can add crumbled goat cheese to the farrotto, and call it a vegetarian dinner (just be sure to switch out the chicken stock for mushroom stock). Other sweet root vegetables, such as carrots or rutabagas, may be substituted for the beets.
Farrotto With Shiitake Mushrooms and Yellow Beets
Active time: about 1 hour
Total time: about 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings
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
Sea salt to taste plus 3/4 teaspoon, divided
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
Melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute 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 saute 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.
While the farro is cooking, heat the oven to 400 degrees. 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.
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.
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