Traditional Italian risotto can only be made with Arborio rice. This short grain, starchy rice is what gives risotto its signature creamy texture. The thing is, sometimes it pays to break tradition. It might not be the exact same dish, but whole grains like farro can make a delicious creamy meal all their own. Here’s how to make a risotto-style dish with farro. Learn these rules, and you can swap in almost any whole grain.
Know your grain
Whole grains like farro, barley, millet, teff, and quinoa can all be used for a creamy risotto style dish. Farro risotto is so beloved that it’s been given its own name—farrotto. A version of farro risotto even made its way onto Blue Apron’s menu in partnership with Chef Sam Kass.
Compared to arborio rice, farro is nuttier and a little chewier. When it comes to making risotto, farro is actually a little more forgiving. Arborio can develop a gummy texture if rushed, but farro tends to keep things nice and creamy. Farro is also packed with protein and fiber, making it a great choice for a healthy swap.
Pick your recipe
Even if you won’t be following the instructions exactly, you can draw inspiration for farro risotto from any classic risotto recipe.
Prepare your farro
The grain cooking technique is the most important part of any risotto dish. The key is cooking slowly and incorporating liquid gradually throughout the cooking process.
Farro risotto is made by slowly incorporating liquid into farro as it cooks. The liquid can be broth, water, wine, or a combination. After each addition of liquid the grains should be cooked until the liquid is completely absorbed. Only then should more liquid be added. This slow cooking process encourages the grains to release their starches and create a creamy texture.
Prepare your other ingredients
One of the chief rules of making risotto, or a risotto-style dish, is not to rush. To develop a creamy finished dish, the grains have to be cooked slowly and gently.
This long cooking time creates a wonderfully rich base of grains, but it would destroy softer vegetables. If your dish calls for delicate vegetables, like tomato or zucchini, cook them separately and spoon them over the risotto before serving.
For an easy, healthy version of farrotto check out the Blue Apron x Chef Sam Kass menu.