Mushroom farrotto is a delicious variation on a theme. Farro is a form of wheat. In Italy it’s used in salads, soups, and often used in place of rice as in this easy, tasty... dish. Farro doesn’t require the stirring of a traditional risotto but brings with it a wonderfully nutty flavor that lends itself deliciously to the mushrooms in this hearty dish. Soaking aside, it doesn’t take that long to make, since the mushrooms can be cooked while the farro is simmering. Give it a try. Fiber never tasted so good.
Soak the dried shitake mushrooms for 30 minutes while you prep the vegetables. Drain, reserving the soak water. Take the soaked mushrooms, discard the woody stems and roughly chop. Set aside. Strain the soak water through a fine sieve. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium high flame. When it shimmers, add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sprinkle with salt and cook stirring until the onion is transparent and the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the drained farro. Cook until the juices in the pan are absorbed. Add lemon-water mixture and mushroom soaking water, and cook until the farro is 'al dente' - tender but still a little chewy – and the water absorbed, about 30 minutes. If the farro is dry but still underdone, add the additional water or stock, a ¼ cup at a time.
Meanwhile, in a sauté pan heat the remaining olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the garlic, shallots and dried thyme. Sauté until the shallots start to color, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped dried mushrooms, cook 1-2 minutes then add the sliced Portabella mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and cook until they wilt, about 5-8 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce until it starts to look syrupy. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let the mushrooms sit for 5-10 minutes or until the farro is cooked.
Stir in the sautéed mushrooms and all their juices into the cooked farro. Stir the grated cheese if using. Taste for salt. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
For a vegan or dairy free version, simply leave out the cheese.
Soaking farro overnight helps it to cook faster and with less liquid, but skip this step if preferred, just add another 10-15 minutes to the cook time in step 3. If farro is not available, use brown rice. In step 3, add 1 1/4 cups stock instead of 1 cup. Check for doneness at 30 minutes as it may need up to 10 minutes more to get al dente, especially if not soaking it.
The soak water of dried mushrooms makes a flavorful broth, but because of the sand and grit that gets caught in the gills of the mushrooms, it needs to be strained before use. If a fine sieve is not available, use a sheet of paper towel and carefully pour the soak water through it. Squeeze out any the liquid caught in the towel back into the rest.