I’m apparently having a difficult time moving away from squash recipes. Butternuts, acorns, and pumpkins are all about fall and winter fare. Same deal with kale.
I’m not sure when farro risotto became a thing, but I was first introduced to it a couple months ago at a local restaurant called Luna Red. Luna Red is one of my favorite restaurants around here.
They serve food tapas-style, so you get to experience a variety of flavors in one meal. Their chef does a great job with the rotating menu, and this fall they are featuring a farro risotto that just blew my mind.
I’m pretty sure their farro risotto was a far cry from vegan, but I really wanted to go home and try to replicate the flavors in my own kitchen. I started out with a recipe that was heavy on cream and ricotta, and honestly was a bit disappointed with the results.
It was good, but all the extra dairy and fat in it just didn’t add much to the dish. In fact, it almost felt like it was just a distraction from the warm earthy flavors of the mushrooms and kale.
So, I went back to the drawing board and got rid of the ricotta and replaced it with a bit of potato flour for creaminess. I swapped the cream for unsweetened almond milk and omitted a butternut squash puree that I was plating it with, instead opting for some cubed roasted butternut.
The second time around was definitely a win. It wasn’t just like the dish at Luna Red, but it was a lighter yet just as satisfying variation that I feel like I could eat almost any day of the week. And maybe every day of the week!
Farro risotto, by nature, isn’t as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice. Arborio rice is special because it has a lot of starches that are released into the liquid when you stir it around, giving it that super thick, creamy texture.
Farro risotto is just… different. It’s delicious. It’s amazing. But it is different. Because of the lack of starches being released, I used some potato flour to thicken up the liquid at the end. This is totally optional, but recommended for the best texture.
When it’s all ready to go, expect to be serving a dish with a wonderful amount of chew from the whole grain farro, and a real depth of flavor you wouldn’t really ever get with arborio rice.Print
This vegan friendly farro risotto is super creamy, chewy, and delicious. Mushrooms and kale add earthy umami flavors, and roasted butternut squash on top gives it a little bit of sweetness.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 10 oz sliced mushrooms
- 10 oz par-cooked farro*
- 4 cups veggie broth, warmed
- 5 oz chopped kale
- 2 Tbsp potato flour*
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast*
- 12 oz cubed butternut squash
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- fresh thyme
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Place the cubed butternut squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then mix everything around with your hands until evenly distributed. Bake for about 25 minutes, until fork-tender.
- Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release their moisture. While these cook, heat your veggie broth to almost boiling.
- Add the farro to the mushrooms and stir. Pour in one cup of the broth and cook, stirring often, until almost absorbed. Repeat until all the broth is gone and the farro is tender. Depending on the brand of farro you use you may need to use more broth, but keep in mind that it naturally has a bit of chew.
- When you add the last cup of broth, also stir in the kale.
- After the farro is tender, stir in the potato flour, almond milk, and nutritional yeast. Serve immediately topped with the butternut and fresh thyme.
– Par-cooked farro takes about 10 minutes to cook, so check the package for cooking times. If you buy the fully uncooked stuff it’ll take a lot longer to cook. I’ve found the parcooked stuff at Trader Joe’s and at Whole Foods.
– The potato flour helps make everything creamy and bind together. You can omit it with no effect on the flavor, but it’ll be less “risotto-like” without it.
– You can replace the nutritional yeast with Parmesan cheese if not vegan.
What about you? Do you prefer farro wheat or arborio rice? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’ve made and loved this recipe, please give it a rating.
Want more risotto dishes like this to tickle your tummy? Try these:
Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on April 12th, 2016. Last updated: October 25, 2018 at 3:59 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Raquel Smith
Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).