Imagine your favorite traditional Italian risotto. Now think of it with a heartier, nuttier, more intense grain. That’s what you’ll get with farro risotto, also sometimes called farrotto. We’re following the same steps necessary to make risotto as you would with Arborio rice — toast the farro, then cook while stirring with white wine and broth until the liquid has absorbed and the grain is tender — while adding lots of fresh Swiss chard (or kale), grated Parmesan, and fresh herbs. It’s seriously packed with flavor!
What is farro?
Farro is an ancient grain (similar to quinoa, freekeh, and karmut) that has a rich flavor and a chewy, hearty texture. It’s similar in appearance to barley, but with a more intense nutty taste. Think of the texture as being similar to that of wild rice, but thicker.
It’s protein-packed and full of fiber, making it one of the most nutrient-dense whole grains out there. You’ll love it in grain bowls as a substitute for white rice, brown rice, or quinoa!
Ingredients for Italian Farro Risotto
- We’ll use a combination of extra virgin olive oil + unsalted butter to sauté the veggies and toast the farro.
- Swiss chard (or kale): remove the stems, then thinly slice. Give the leaves a rough chop.
- Shallots: A subtle onion flavor that is slightly sweet from sweating in butter.
- Garlic: Always and forever adding garlic to risotto!
- Farro: Protein and fiber packed ancient grain that has a nutty flavor and firm texture relative to Arborio rice (and other rice varieties)
- Dry white wine: Adds a slight acidity that brightens the dish and can be tasted throughout.
- Broth or stock: Use vegetable broth to keep the farrotto vegetarian, but of course low-sodium chicken stock works great too!
- Fresh herbs: tarragon and chives: Do not underestimate the flavor of fresh tarragon! It lightens and brightens the overall flavor of the dish, which is welcome given the hearty texture of Italian farro.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, when possible!
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: To season all ingredients
- High quality finishing oil and flaky sea salt: To finish the dish and give more pronounced flavor, added just before serving.
How To Make Farrotto
Making farro risotto at home has a similar process to making a traditional Italian risotto with Arborio rice. The biggest difference is that we recommend soaking the farro in hot water before cooking. You wouldn’t do this with rice, as it would affect the texture too much, but that’s exactly why we recommend it here. Farro is much thicker and chewier than rice. Unless you want to cook it on a stove top for 1 hour, stirring more or less continuously, soak the farro first.
What does soaking the farro do? It helps to soften the grain and to release the starches so that when you cook it on the stove top, it takes less time and results in a naturally creamier farrotto.
Next, sweat shallots in butter until softened. Along with the shallots, we’re adding chopped Swiss chard stems. Why? Because the leaves cook much quicker than the stems. When you sauté them early on in the cooking process, they will slowly soften both from sweating and from absorbing vegetable or chicken broth.
Before adding liquid, toast the farro for 1-2 minutes. Once it smells fragrant, add some dry white wine. Allow this to cook off, then begin adding warm broth that has been simmering in a saucepan 1 to 2 ladlefuls at a time. Cook over medium heat and stir the farro as it slowly absorbs the liquid.
You’ll repeat this process for about 15-20 minutes before adding the chopped Swiss chard leaves. Continue cooking and adding broth for another 15 minutes, or until the farro is fully cooked.
Finish the farrotto recipe with lots of grated Parmesan, fresh tarragon and chives, and a couple tablespoons of butter. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper, then taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Tips For The Best Farro Risotto
- Note that the cook time for farro will depend on the type of farro you’re using. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on pearled farro, there’s no need to pre-soak before cooking. If, however, you’re using semi-pearled farro or whole farro (the most typical option in traditional grocery stores), do not skip out on soaking the farro first!!
- Don’t have fresh tarragon? You can easily substitute with other fresh herbs, such as basil, sage, or thyme.
- Make sure the broth or stock is kept warm over a gentle simmer in a saucepan. Adding cold broth to the farro risotto will have an effect on the cook time, as it will bring the temperature of the dish down.
- Love mushrooms? Risotto and mushrooms go together like peanut butter and jelly — they would make a lovely addition to farrotto! In the summer months you could add burst cherry tomatoes!
Is Farro Gluten-Free?
No! Farro is a type of wheat and is, therefore, not gluten-free.
What If I Need More Liquid?
That’s always a possibility. Pre-soaking the farro helps to cut back on the overall cook time, but if you find you’ve used all 6 cups of liquid and need more, you can add additional broth, stock, or even water, as needed. The farro is fully cooked when it is tender to the bite, but remember, it’s closer in texture to wild rice than traditional white or Arborio rice.
What To Serve With Farro
This farro risotto is a full meal in and of itself. If you want to add a light green salad, our Well Seasoned House Salad is a great option. In the summer, we’d keep it simple and serve it with this Tomato And Onion Salad.
Feel free to add a protein like roast chicken, Italian sausages, or a few slices of grilled steak. So delicious!
This farrotto is extremely hearty and satisfying. A great dinner for cozying up next to on a cool fall or winter evening.
If you make this creamy Farro Risotto recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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Other Italian recipes to try!
- Weeknight Chicken Milanese with Fennel Salad
- Sicilian Cauliflower
- Grilled Swordfish Skewers with Italian Salsa Verde
- Stuffed Chicken Marsala
- Rigatoni Bolognese
Thick, Creamy Farro Risotto (Farrotto) with Swiss Chard
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, stems separated and thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped
- 2 large shallots peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup farro
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
- ¼ – ½ cup grated Parmesan plus more, for serving
- 2 Tbsp tarragon finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp chives thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- High quality extra virgin olive oil for serving
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Pre-soak the farro. Place 1 cup of farro in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water, then let sit for 2 hours. Alternatively, you can cook 1 cup of farro in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes, then drain. Do not skip this step! The goal is to soften the starches before cooking.
- Simmer the broth. Place 6 cups of vegetable broth or chicken stock in a medium saucepan. Warm through over medium heat, then reduce temperature to a simmer.
- Sweat the shallots. Heat 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the diced shallot, sliced Swiss chard (or kale) stems, and garlic cloves for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Toast the farro. Add the drained farro to the pan, then toast for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with ½ cup white wine.
- Slowly add the liquid. Add 1-2 ladlefuls of broth or stock, stirring like you would with a risotto, until the liquid has absorbed. If you need to walk away, place a lid on the pan so it steams a little. Cook for 20 minutes, or until a little more than halfway through the cooking process.
- Stir in Swiss chard. Add in the chopped Swiss chard (or kale) leaves. Cook with remaining broth until softened and farro is al dente, about 10-15 minutes more. Use additional broth as needed until farro is tender to the bite.
- Finish, then serve. Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan, remaining 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, 2 Tbsp chopped tarragon, 1 Tbsp chopped chives, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and ¼ tsp black pepper . Stir well. Taste, adjust seasoning, then add remaining ¼ cup of cheese if you want it slightly thicker. Serve immediately with a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt on each serving.