If you’ve picked up a copy of The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen, you’re probably already familiar with my love of using farro in risottos. The chewy texture of cooked farro lends itself well to the overall dish. Even when using the pearled variety, it feels a bit heartier than if using arborio rice.
Of course, time isn’t always on our sides to make regular risotto and that’s where this baked version comes in handy. No stirring and adding liquids, just throwing things in a pot a few times. The recipe from which I adapted this one calls for adding butternut squash at the beginning but I like my cauliflower to have texture. I add the chipped cauliflower part of the way through cooking. Feel free to experiment with cooking times based on your preferred tenderness.
Baked Farro Risotto with Cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot or 2 medium, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 cup pearled farro
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (see note)
- Fresh minced parsley, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Heat a small, 3 quart dutch oven over medium heat. Add in olive oil followed by the minced shallots. Cook until shallots are fragrant and starting brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Next, stir in the salt, pepper, thyme, and farro, Stir and let farro toast for a minute. Measure in vegetable broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and place the dutch oven in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove from oven and add the cauliflower to the top of the pot. Cover, return to oven, and cook for another 10 minutes until cauliflower is just starting to softened. Remove from oven, set aside lid, and parmesan.
- Return the risotto to the oven, without the lid, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the liquid has all been absorbed. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and fresh parsley if desired.
Parmesan: As always, look for vegetarian friendly parmesan cheese (this is a good list of brands to look for).
Dutch Oven: I'm currently using a dutch oven I purchased from Ikea but Lodge makes a really nice one as well.
Recipe is adapted from this butternut squash version.
Variations for the Baked Farro Risotto
I think what I love most about risotto is that it’s really a great base for using whatever is in season. As you can see, the original recipe used squash and bacon (which I ditched much to the chagrin of my husband).
Produce: Squash or sweet potatoes are the first logical swap but in the spring I make this with asparagus and in summer, I love it with zucchini.
Cheese: I kept the parmesan from the original recipe but I usually use whatever I have on hand. Goat cheese, gouda, asiago, and even cheddar have found a home in this baked risotto, depending on the other ingredients.
Make it Vegan: Unlike traditional risotto, this baked farro risotto is fairly easy to make vegan: just ditch the cheese. The baked risotto isn’t meant to be as creamy as it’s stovetop counterpart which makes leaving the cheese out easy (and not really missed).
Since I mentioned my love of farro and risotto, here’s a few more inspirations for cooking up a good farro risotto (traditional or baked). Just make sure you’re using pearled farro.