By Chef Linda
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish, generally made with white arborio rice, slowly cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Vegan versions use vegetable broth in place of chicken and replace the butter and parmesan with non-dairy versions. In this recipe, the lovely nutty-tasting whole grain farro replaces white arborio rice and gives us a huge increase in nutritional benefits. Farro, an ancient grain, is an excellent source of fiber, protein, magnesium, and iron. And while farro does contain gluten, it contains lower levels than today's wheat. Find farro in most well-stocked grocery stores where you would find rice and other grains. When cooked, farro has a chewy, hearty texture, and can be used in salads, soups, and anywhere white rice is used. Savory mushrooms and sweet green peas are all you need to create this dish any time of year–yet feel free to add seasonal ingredients like winter squash or asparagus as appropriate. While simple to prepare, this recipe invites you to slow down and enjoy the cooking process as much as the meal itself.
Mushroom and Pea Farro Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced or grated, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups farro, rinsed
5 to 6 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 (10-ounce) package button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, while stirring occasionally, for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic, thyme, and salt. Cook for about 2 minutes more until garlic and thyme are fragrant. Add farro and stir until it is coated with oil, about 2 minutes.
The farro will take about 30 to 35 minutes in total to cook. Start by adding 1 cup of broth and the vinegar to the pan, while stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to cook farro for about 15 minutes adding broth as needed, waiting until liquid is almost absorbed each time before adding more. Halfway through cooking, add the mushrooms to the pan, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, adding broth as needed. Stir occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the peas and cover. When farro is tender and peas are bright green, remove from heat and gently stir in the cheese. Season to taste with more salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately.