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Mushroom Risotto Gets An Update With Farro

Mushroom Risotto has long been a favorite of mine to order in an Italian restaurant. It was a good indication of how committed the restaurant was to quality in my opinion. If the mushrooms were cheap or scarce and the rice was long grain instead of short, I questioned their commitment to authenticity. The best mushroom risotto I ever ate was served to me at the famous Coronado Hotel in San Diego. It was served at their luxurious brunch they held there on Sundays. It was set up as a station and the chef working the station would finish cooking the risotto in a pan along with the wild mushrooms of your choice and then finished with a long drizzle of truffle oil. I immediately put this station on my catering menu when I got back home as an action station available for my catering customers. I have heard that most restaurants cook Risotto halfway and finishes it when the customer orders it.

New Age of Risotto

Today, I use Farro, a high-protein ancient grain made from wheat and a suitable substitute for arborio rice. It's easier to cook although it takes a bit longer than arborio rice. I love to make it for guests at a dinner party because at my house everyone is always in the kitchen so I can enlist help stirring easily from the crowd. This recipe can be easily converted into a flexible recipe for meat eaters - just add some cooked meat at the end or on the side. Or my savory BBQ Shrimp recipe fits the bill as a perfect partner.

Here is a video if you want to learn more about Farro from Clean and Delicious website. She talks about all the types of Farro in this segment called Farro 101. There is also a Kale salad with Farro included.

Ingredients I used for this dish

Dried Mushrooms- I used lobster mushrooms however any type of dried mushroom will work. I usually try to find a forest mix.

Olive oil- You can use either EVOO or regular olive oil, whatever you have on hand is good.

Onions- Yellow or white sweet onions are suggested however if you want to sub shallots and use half as many, that would be suitable.

Garlic- Fresh minced is best, but chopped in a jar is ok to use.

Fresh Cremini mushrooms- These are right next to the regular mushrooms and they are a bit darker than regular ones.

Farrow- find it in the bulk aisle of a well-stocked bulk foods department or in a box along the pasta aisle. Italian is a better brand but what you can get will suffice.

Vegetable stock- I use the better than bouillon brand and mix it with water. Make sure it's hot before starting this dish. I set it in a pot on the back burner of the store on a slow simmer to make sure. Have a ladle handy to use to ladle the stock in the farrow as needed.

White wine- a dry white that you would want to drink is the one to use.

Frozen Peas- straight from the freezer section is what I used. No need to rinse or thaw.

Truffle Oil- I used this at the end for a drizzle of mushroom flavor. Be sure to get the real deal, there are lots of imposters out there posing for truffle oil these days. If the price is too good to be true, it's probably chemically made and not natural.

Parmesan Cheese- Dairy or non-dairy, your choice. If you use dairy, it's best to get the chunk and grate it right before serving. Other cheeses can be used, just make sure they are strong and flavorful. I have used goat cheese before with excellent results.

Salt and pepper- I used my standby of kosher salt and fresh ground Tellicherry black pepper.

Coco's Skill Notes:

The term Risotto is related to the cooking style and the dish. Cooking Risotto is a basic cooking skill that entails patience, the skill is in the rice cookery category except you are adding liquid as you are cooking instead of adding it all at once. This makes the rice more creamy which means the starch is releasing and mixing with the cheese to make a toothsome sauce. Coating the kernels in olive oil keeps them from getting too soft. You can overcook Risotto, so careful attention to the doneness, is crucial. My desired consistency is a bit al dente because it will keep cooking for a few minutes after the heat is off.

Chef's notes:

Be sure to use a large heavy-bottom shallow pan to make this dish. The more surface in the bottom of the pan, the quicker the stock will be incorporated in the farro.

Serve with crusty bread and my leafy green All Seasons salad . Pair with an earthy Zinfandel wine.

Store in the fridge for up to five days freezes beautifully. Reheat gently in the microwave at 50% power.

Wash your farro and make sure you get pearled farro

To print, the recipe click here

Mushroom Farro Risotto

Any kind of dried mushroom will work, I used dried lobster mushrooms. Vegan Parmesan cheese can also be substituted. Leftovers freeze great. Serving size: 8


1 ounce dried mushrooms

4 tablespoons olive, oil divided

1 each onion minced

1 tablespoon garlic minced

3 (8-ounce) containers of fresh cremini mushrooms sliced

3 cups farro rinsed

6-8 cups vegetable stock hot

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/8 cup truffle oil optional

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese vegan or Dairy

salt and pepper to taste


1. Soak dried mushrooms in warm water for at least 1 hour. Drain through a sieve or coffee filter and reserve mushroom water to add to vegetable stock. Chop dried mushrooms small. 2. Rinse Farro and set aside. In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. 3. Add fresh mushrooms and saute until soft and water releases, about 10 minutes. Add dried, soft mushrooms and heat until cooked through about 2 more minutes. Remove from pan and add a couple of more tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes until soft. When soft, add the farro and stir coating all the kernels. 4. Add a half a cup of stock at a time and cook farro until tender to the tooth, much like arborio rice. 5. Cook for 18-30 minutes depending on how high your heat is and how hot your stock is. 6. When farro is cooked, add mushrooms back in, green peas, white wine, truffle oil if using and Parmesan cheese to taste. Add salt and pepper and serve hot.


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