Updated: Sep 18, 2021
As a kid, I was always excited when my parents served us rice pilaf. I considered it a special, exotic treat- a welcome break from the usual baked potato or pasta side. My mom would pull out that slender white box, dump the contents into a pot and 20 minutes later we would be scooping heaps of seasoned rice onto our plates. Our kitchen would smell sooo good and everyone would go back for seconds. I still love a good pilaf (essentially rice cooked with spices and/or aromatics), but I've learned that even better, boxless versions exist! This farro pilaf is a delicious variation.
If you have never had farro, an ancient grain hailing from Italy, you're in for a treat! It's nutty, chewy and hearty- it lends some earthiness and texture to this pilaf recipe. It's also high in protein, fiber, vitamin A and iron. I cook it using the "pasta method:" I boil a large pot of salted water and add the farro until it's al dente, then drain it in a colander. This method insures that it's perfect every time!
The golden grains of farro pair beautifully with mixed mushrooms, shallots and thyme for a tasty spin on a traditional pilaf. I like to serve this as a side for anything: chicken, beef or salmon! But it would also be delightful as a main course over some wilted greens with an egg on top.
prep time: 10 min. cook time: 40 min. serves: 4-6 as a side dish
1 cup pearled (hulled) farro
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp sesame oil
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
10 oz mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster and trumpet), torn into 1” pieces and any woody stems removed
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water seasoned with 1 tsp salt to a boil. Add the farro, stir and reduce the heat to low. Allow the farro to cook on the stove until al dente, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the farro in a colander and then spread it out on a sheet pan to prevent further cooking.
Heat the olive oil, sesame oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they're beginning to soften. Add the mushrooms, thyme and scallions and cook 7-10 minutes longer, until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender (add a splash more olive oil if the pan looks too dry). Season the mushroom mixture with 1/2 tsp salt and some ground black pepper. Add the white wine and let evaporate almost completely, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add the cooked farro to the pan along with the parsley (reserve a little bit for garnish) and stir to heat through. Check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl garnished with some more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.