I stumbled across “farrotto” on Cooking Light’s Instagram a month or so ago. Essentially a risotto, but made with farro, a whole grain alternative to arborio rice. Genius! -was my initial thought. To be honest, the texture of farro and arborio rice is pretty similar. And once it’s cooked up with all the vegetables, herbs, and flavorful liquids, this Mushroom and Tomato Farrotto is so creamy and delicious, it really doesn’t matter what grain you use.
I know many people hear the word risotto and sigh, thinking- there is no way this is going to be easy! But let me tell you, it is not as complicated as fancy chefs make it out to be. Especially in the case of this creamy Mushroom and Tomato Farrotto, just a few simple ingredients come together to make an elegant meal. Not just elegant, but PERFECT for #MeatlessMonday since it’s hearty enough to leave you full by the end of the meal, flavorful enough to stop you from craving anything else, and the mushrooms provide an umami (or meaty) taste to satisfy even the carnivores at the table.
This is the perfect side dish to be served alongside, literally ANYTHING, or it really can be the shining star of the meal all by itself. Toss a slice of crusty garlic bread alongside these bowls, and dinner is good to go.
Since I recently talked about the health benefits of farro in one of my favorite salads here, today let’s take a little rundown on mushrooms, shall we? Perhaps most famously, mushrooms are an excellent source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is naturally made by the body when exposed to sunlight, and the same goes for mushrooms. Thus, the vitamin D content can be increased in these veggies, if you place them in the sun for 3o minutes before cooking. Mushrooms are also another great plant-based source of selenium, the mineral you may remember me talking about in my Awesome Juice. Selenium is a mineral that increases the durability of bones, teeth, hair, and nails, in addition to being a powerful antioxidant. Finally, mushrooms are also a good source of B vitamins (specifically B2 and B3) the family of nutrients known as “energy vitamins” because they help the body metabolize carbs and turn them into fuel your system can burn through (glucose). I don’t know about you, but I’m all about anything that will speed up my metabolism!
As I mentioned before, I originally stumbled across a similar recipe to this through Cooking Light– however, I made a few changes of my own- surprise, surprise!
- I added in a LOT more veggies. If you’ve ever cooked with mushrooms before, you know they’re like spinach- you start out with a whole pile, and then they cook down to practically NOTHING! Sad, I know. So even if the pan seems a bit crowded at first, just be patient, let those babies caramelize.
- To make up for the added veggies, I added a bit more farro, too. Yes, this recipe makes a lot, but if there is one thing people who are trying to get in the habit of cooking for themselves should do, it’s COOK ONCE EAT TWICE (or three or four times). I always try to cook my meals so they last at the very least one more day. Your time and energy are precious, save it!
- I didn’t have any thyme when I made this, and since so little was used in the original recipe, I figured it would be ok to leave it out. Instead, I added in a bunch of fresh basil, because what does fresh basil NOT go with?! Some fresh thyme would still be a good addition, but I recommend not skimping on the basil.
- To make it vegan, I omitted the parmesan cheese. If you’re simply vegetarian, go ahead, toss some of that creamy delicious-ness in here. For my fellow vegans out there, this tastes fine without it, but, you will need to add additional sea salt. Parmesan cheese is EXTREMELY salty, and we still need that flavor for the grains and to balance out the acid of the tomatoes. So be liberal with your sea salt sprinkling. I also tossed in a handful of toasted pine nuts the first time I made this for that extra little buttery-ness. The second time I made it, I used Pine Nut Parmesan- following the recipe for my Cashew Parmesan, just subbing cashews for pine nuts.
- Finally, most recipes for risotto call for you to heat the broth in a separate pan before adding it to the recipe. This is completely unnecessary, just creating another dish to wash. Add your broth in at room temperature, and sure, it may take an extra minute of cooking, but at least you don’t have to wash anymore dishes!!
Creamy Mushroom and Tomato Farrotto
- 2-4T olive oil* - I used sundried tomato infused olive oil
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2 large shallots (1/2 cup) - finely chopped
- 16 ounces portabella mushrooms - sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves - minced
- 1 3/4 cups farro
- 1 cup white wine
- 3-4 cups veggie broth - (you can sub half with water if you need to)
- 1 cup fresh basil - chopped
- 1/2-3/4 cup pine nuts - toasted
- In a large dutch oven or soup pan, heat 2T of olive oil and add the tomatoes. Cook over high heat for 10-15 minutes until blistered.
- Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to remove the tomatoes and set aside. Otherwise, you can leave them in and add in 1-2T more of olive oil (optional) and the shallots and mushrooms. Reduce heat slightly and cook until softened and starting to lightly caramelize, another 6-10 minutes.
- At this point, if you took the tomatoes out of the pan, add them back in, along with the garlic and dry farro, stirring constantly to evenly coat with the veggies and oil. Once the garlic is fragrant (you can smell it cooking) add in the white wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then, add in 1 cup of vegetable broth. Repeat process- bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding liquid 1 cup at a time, stirring and cooking the farrotto slowly until the farro is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Before serving, stir in the chopped basil. Adjust sea salt to taste, then top with toasted pine nuts, pine nut parmesan, or a fresh drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
Note: If you farrotto sits around and gets a bit thick, just stir in a bit more broth or water to bring it back to the consistency you prefer!