Farro Risotto With Pesto & Date Tomatoes

a farro farrotto, aka farrotto

Today I want to share a simple and delicious recipe that I make very often for my family. It’s a farro risotto (or farrotto, if you prefer), dressed with homemade pesto and date tomatoes

I first tasted it as an appetizer in a restaurant where my sister works, and I liked it so much that I tried to replicate it at home as soon as I could. It’s a very simple recipe, requiring only a little patience and a few good quality ingredients.

You can serve it as a starter, but also as a main course for dinner, or as a side dish for meat dishes. 

Let’s see how it’s done!

What's a farro risotto?

A farro risotto/farrotto is simply a farro dish made with the same cooking method that is used to make risotto. 

This method is called risottare (as a verb) or risottatura (as a noun). And as you will see in a moment, it can be used with rice, pasta and cereals to bring out their starch and give the dish a delicious creamy texture. 

An example of it is the lemon pasta recipe that I shared a couple weeks ago. Today we’re going to do it with farro. 

some of the ingredients for this farro risotto recipe: an onion, date tomatoes, butter, farro and white wine

Ingredients

So, as I was saying, this recipe doesn’t require many ingredients. This is what I used to feed 4 people:

  • 1 red onion, or alternatively, one shallot;
  • 1/2 stick of butter. You will use part of it to grease the pan on which you will cook your farrotto, and keep the rest for the final step, which is called “mantecare” in Italian. I’ll tell you more about this later;
  • 10 oz farro;
  • 1 glass of good quality white wine. This will be absorbed by the farro and will affect its final flavor, so it might be good to avoid the usual cooking wine;
  • 2 cups chicken broth. If you have time and resources, the best thing would be to make a broth with chicken, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and parsley. But if you don’t, you can simply use a good-quality stock cube. That’s what I did this time;
  • Red or yellow date tomatoes to taste. 
  • 8 oz pesto: you can use any pesto you like. Traditional Genovese pesto, pesto without pine nuts, mint pesto… I decided to go with our oregano pesto recipe;
  • 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese.

Method

Start by dicing the onion and chopping the tomatoes and tomatoes. Meanwhile, heat your broth in a small saucepan.

This recipe should be done completely over low heat, and you’ll need to stay close to the stove at all times. So arm yourself with patience.

Grease a saucepan with a small amount of butter, then add the farro and let it toast (low heat, mind you!) for about two minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

To know when it is ready, lay your hand on top of the pan. If you don’t feel anything, it means you have to wait a little longer. When you start to feel some heat, it means you can move on to the next step.

a hand checking the temperature of toasting farro grains

Now add the onion and let it brown for another minute, stirring well.

Add the glass of wine and stir until it is completely absorbed by the farro. When it does, it’s time to start pouring the broth over the pan.

adding white wine

As I was saying before, this process is called risottare, and it is the basic cooking method for any risotto. While other pasta or rice dishes are left to boil in salted water, in this case you have to pour the broth over it a little at a time.

This way, the starch in the pasta or grain (in this case, in the farro) will come out slowly without being thrown away at the end of cooking, and it will make your dish creamier.

Add two or three ladles at a time, wait for them to be fully absorbed, add a little more. Continue for about 25 minutes, stirring often and tasting the farro to check that it is not overcooking.

adding chicken stock to farrotto

After the 25 minutes is up, you can turn off the heat and transfer everything to a bowl along with the pesto and cherry tomatoes.

Now, it’s time to “mantecare.” Take the rest of the butter and some grated Parmesan cheese, spread them on top of your farrotto, then cover with a lid and let it sit for five minutes. This will cause the melted cheeses to mix with the starch resulting from the cooking method you used earlier – making it even creamier!

adding butter to the farrotto in order to"mantecare", as they call it in Italy

After the five minutes are up, stir one last time and then serve along with good white wine.

If you want to be super fancy, arrange it on a plate aside with a bacon-stuffed potato croquette, and some arugula leaves dressed with parmesan flakes. Or, you could use it to fill some muffin tins, leave it for an hour or so in the refrigerator, and serve it as an appetizer along with other cold foods. 

This time I decided to keep it simple.

Farro Risotto FAQs

Q: Can I use olive oil instead of butter?
A: Traditionally, risottos are made with butter, like many other dishes that originated in Northern Italy. By using olive oil, you won’t be able to do the final “mantecatura,” and your dish will be less creamy and flavorful.

Q: Is farro the same as spelt?
A: For a long time, I thought the answer was yes. But apparently, this is a translation error made by many Italians. You see, many of our dictionaries translate farro as spelt, but they are actually two “cousin” grains, which have different cooking times and gluten levels (along with other biological differences). So, for this recipe, look exclusively for farro at your local grocery store.

Q: How do I know when to stop adding broth?
A: On average, farro takes 25 to 30 minutes to cook properly. So my advice is to pour in the last ladle of broth after about 20 minutes of cooking, wait for the farro to absorb it, and taste to evaluate whether you should add some more.

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a farro farrotto, aka farrotto

Farro Risotto With Pesto & Date Tomatoes


  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale

1 red onion

1/2 butter stick

10 oz farro

1 glass of white wine

2 cups chicken broth

red or yellow date tomatoes to taste

8 oz pesto

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese


Instructions

  1. Heat your broth in a small saucepan. In the meantime, dice the onion and chop the date tomatoes.
  2. Grease a saucepan with a small portion of butter, add the farro, and let it toast on low heat for a couple of minutes. In order to know when it’s toasted, raise your hand at about 4 inches above the saucepan. If you don’t feel any heat, wait a few more seconds. When you start feeling the heat, move to the next step.
  3. Add the diced onion and let it brown for another minute or less, stirring well with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add a glass of white wine and stir until it’s been completely absorbed by the farro.
  5. Add 2 or 3 ladles of broth, wait for them to be completely absorbed, then add some more. Continue for about 25 minutes, stirring often and tasting the farro to check that it is not overcooking.
  6. Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl, then mix with the pesto and date tomatoes.
  7. Take the rest of the butter and some grated Parmesan cheese, spread them on top of your farrotto, then cover with a lid and let it sit for five minutes.
  8. Stir one last time, and enjoy!

Notes

In order to avoid adding too much broth at the end, check how it tastes after 20 minutes and decide whether to add one more ladleful or to stop. It shouldn’t have much of a bite.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: farro risotto recipe, farrotto recipe

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