Posted by: lornasass | November 25, 2009


In Italy, a risotto made from farro is called a farrotto.

Photo courtesy of Gourmet Sleuth

Farro is an ancient variety of wheat whose starch creates a wonderfully creamy risotto. If you cannot locate farro, substitute readily available Arborio rice, and reduce the cooking time under pressure to 4 minutes.

Makes 3 main course and 4  appetizer portions


1/2 tsp saffron threads

1 1/2 TBS olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup semi-pearled farro (labeled farro perlato)

1/3 cup dry white wine, vermouth, or sherry

2 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or use a mixture of half parmesan and half romano),  plus more for garnish

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, stir the saffron threads into 1 tablespoon of warm water.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger cooker.  Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the farro and coat with oil.  Continue cooking and stirring until the farro releases a toasted aroma,  about 2 minutes.

Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates.  Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the broth, taking care to scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Lock the lid in place.  Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Quick-release the pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions.   Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Stir in the saffron.  Set the cooker over medium-high heat and stir vigorously.  Boil uncovered, stirring every minute or so, until the mixture thickens and the farro is tender but still chewy, usually 1 to 3 minutes.  If the mixture becomes dry before the farro is done, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the remaining broth, as needed.  The finished farrotto should be slightly runny as it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate.

Stir in the peas and cook an additional minute.  Turn off heat and stir in the cheese and walnuts.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in shallow bowls or on lipped plates.  Garnish each portion with additional cheese.

Copyright, Lorna Sass, 2009



  1. Three cheers for Lorna!
    Great to see this website. I found it when I saw your comment on Mark Bitten’s site.

    I bought “Cooking Under Pressure” in 1989. My copy is tattered and food-stained, which is the best tribute to a great cookbook. You got me started seriously cooking, and I thank you for the inspiration. I now own over 300 cookbooks, and still go to your book for inspiration and ideas when I want to use my PCooker.

    • TX for the great testimonial! Hope you spread the word about pressure cooking!

  2. Could you tell me pls, how is farro wheat different from any other wheat in terms of the quality of the output as per this recipe? Or is it that farro cooks better or faster?

    • Farro is a type of emmer wheat and an ancient cousin to the wheat commonly grown in this country. Most of the farro available in the US is imported from Italy and semi-pearled (i.e. some of the bran is removed), so it cooks more quickly than the winter and spring wheat we know as wheat berries (actually kernels, not berries at all!) Because some of the bran has been removed, farro cooks more quickly than other types of wholegrain wheat. It’s a delightful grain with a high starch content. Don’t be tempted to replace other types of wheat for the farro in this recipe.

  3. I have bought your vegetarian book when I bought my pressure cooker to help me. Me make veganmeals more quickly. Thanks for the great book. I would like to be able to make risotto with brown rice. Is that not possible? You haven’t included any such recipes. Your explanation about starch content is probably the reason but I would love to be able to substitute a whole grain if possible.

    • You could try risotto with brown rice, but there isn’t enough of the kind of starch that produces a creamy result. If you want to try, I’d increase the liquid by 1/2 cup. Farro has many of the virtues of a whole grain, just missing some of the bran layer and perhaps some of the germ lost in processing. Happy cooking!

  4. Used your recipe as a guideline, tonight. Sautéed onion, carrots, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes with 2/3 cup Farro. Added white vermouth, one can of college inn vegetable broth and cooked at high pressure for 8 minutes. Then reduced the remaining liquid and plated with grated pram. Yummy! Thanks, Lorna. P.S. I’m a fan of your book, “Cooking Under Pressure”.

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