This rustic Farro Risotto With Sauteed Mushrooms and Fennel Recipe is prime winter comfort food – minus the fat. Healthy never tasted so delicious!
Farro Risotto With Sauteed Mushrooms and Fennel
Winter sure brings out my primal hunger!
My cravings for soulful classics like buttery mashed potatoes and ooey gooey mac & cheese spike this time of year. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
We have entered prime comfort food territory here, friends!
As the holiday season reaches its fever pitch, I can usually be found at the burners, making buttery mushroom risotto like my life depends on it.
However this winter, in an effort to eat healthier, I’ve dedicated myself to finding creative ways to replicate my cold weather favorites without the mammoth levels of butter.
And, let me tell you, it’s totally doable!
This mushroom loaded creamy farro risotto is proof positive that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor to keep things healthier. Comfort food lovers rejoice!
No butter needed
I think you’ll agree with me that getting rid of the butter (in a recipe that normally demands a king’s ransom of the stuff) is a little daunting.
Well, it turns out that a good quality extra virgin olive oil worked well for me in this fennel and mushroom farro risotto recipe.
My winter-taste-buds needs were satisfied, minus the heaviness of a more traditional risotto recipe.
And, yep – not only does this recipe sub out the butter for olive oil, I went with farro instead of rice to up the rusticity of this comfort food classic.
What is Farro?
Farro is a whole grain that, when cooked, is more chewy and dense than cooked rice. Other frequently used healthy grains that share the ‘whole grain’ distinction are quinoa and barley.
Along with its oblong shape and slightly nutty flavor, farro comes with a whole host of health benefits. Farro is vegan, cholesterol-free, almost fat-free – and is an incredible source of fiber.
However, since this ancient grain is wheat, it is not gluten free.
There are even studies that show eating whole wheats like farro could lower your risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes significantly.
Nothing wrong with that!
How to cook Farro?
For this mushroom and fennel farro risotto, I used 1½ cups of dry farro. It’s a good idea to rinse and drain your farro before cooking.
Then, I added the farro to 3 cups of water, along with a pinch of salt, and brought the whole thing to a boil.
Once boiling, you can lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes or so.
A good rule of thumb when testing the doneness of farro is that it should be chewy, but not hard. Think al dente.
Unlike cooking rice – or cooking quinoa – where the water is fully absorbed by the grain, there may be a bit of water left in the bottom of the pot when cooking your farro. If the grains are done to your liking, go ahead and drain the excess water from the pan and your farro is good to go!
What are some other Farro recipes?
If you’d like to test-run this ancient grain in a few recipes with different flavor profiles, have a look at these:
- Bountiful 8 Layer Farro Salad
- Mediterranean Farro Salad With Spiced Chickpeas
- One Pan Farro With Tomatoes
- Hearty Farro Salad
But no matter whether you make this mushroom and fennel loaded vegan farro risotto, or another farro recipe, I think you’ll love the nuttiness, texture and health benefits this whole grain brings to the table.
What Mushrooms should I use in this farro risotto?
I used a combination of cremini and shiitake mushrooms in this creamy farro risotto recipe. Shiitakes really deliver a umami element to this plant based recipe that is out of sight.
But one of the best parts of playing around in the kitchen is trying out new things and having fun!
Feel like dressing up your mushroom farro risotto and making dinner a bit more fancy? Go with morels or chanterelles for a more refined mushroom risotto experience.
Only have a few minutes to shop, and want to keep that ingredients list simple? Plain button mushrooms will definitely do the trick! A few minutes spent browning in a sautèe pan on the stove top will elevate the cheapest package of mushrooms into something extraordinary!
Delicious at its core
One of the cool things about trying to make comfort food classics a bit more healthy is that I get to eat food that is delicious without some of the calories.
And – before you say it, I agree – butter in risotto is delicious!
But some dishes are already delicious at their core – and then ingredients are heaped on after the fact that may not be as obligatory to our overall enjoyment.
I believe this vegan farro risotto with sautèed mushrooms and fennel is one such recipe.
Mushrooms bring a depth of flavor and umami that plays so nicely with the almost licorice notes from the caramelized fennel. Put that together with the nutty chewiness of whole grain farro – and you have a dish that already has delicious bones. No butter necessary.
However, like I said earlier, cooking should be carefree and fun! If you think a little butter would make your homemade mushroom farro risotto better, go for it (and tell me about it in the comments)!!
Other simple, delicious mushroom-loaded recipes:
- Stuffed Mushrooms With Soy and Sesame Quinoa
- Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash With Mushrooms
- Mushrooms Spring Rolls
- Japanese Mashed Potatoes With Mushroom Gravy
- Mushroom Barley Burger With Sriracha Mayo
Did you like this Farro Risotto With Sauteed Mushrooms and Fennel Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!