Post sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. See below for more details.
There’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of risotto. There are endless seasonal flavors and thanks to a myriad of whole grains, many bases you can use. A creamy, vegan risotto is within reach thanks to help from a bit of farro and an easy walnut cream sauce.
Whole Grain Risottos
Traditionally, risottos are made with arborio rice. This variety of rice has a high level of starch which translates into a creamy risotto everyone knows and loves. However, it’s rare I have arborio rice on hand. This has led to a lot of exploration into whole grain risottos.
Whole grains, such as spelt, farro, and einkorn work well after they’ve been cracked slightly. By cracking the grains, a small bit of flour forms which simulates the creaminess of the arborio rice.
Alternatively, pearled grains like barley and farro work without the cracking. These are whole grains that have had some of the outer layer removed which means they aren’t true whole grains, but are still delicious!
Farro for everything!
For this risotto, I’m using Bob’s Red Mill Farro. This pearled farro makes for a delightful warm and creamy risotto. Farro does take a bit of time to cook but if I’m using it in salads or grain bowls, I’ll make a large batch ahead of time. Farro holds shape and texture well even a few days after cooking.
Beyond risottos, I like to use farro in hearty salads, grain bowls, and even vegetable bakes. Try this cheesy zucchini bake, Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Pecan Vinaigrette, or as a base for this Berbere Chickpeas and Chard.
What’s with Walnut Cream?
Beyond just the arborio rice, risotto’s creaminess often comes from a bit of added cheese. However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. For this farro risotto, I’ve swapped cheese for an easy to make walnut cream sauce.
This cream sauce is a lot like the ever-popular cashew version. I love using walnuts, though, for their unique flavor. It’s the perfect fall treat and butternut squash companion. Best of all, walnuts softer texture purees into a lovely smooth cream sauce.
Squash or Sweet Potatoes
Finally, if you’re not in the mood to tackle peeling butternut squash, there are alternatives. Swap butternut squash for sweet potatoes, carrots, or another variety of squash that doesn’t peeled, like delicata. All of these work well with a good farro risotto.
A hearty farro risotto made vegan with a delicious walnut cream sauce and rosemary roasted butternut squash. Perfect for fall!
- 3/4 cup raw walnuts
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 garlic clove
- Juice and zest from half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red or white onion
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Farro
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth and/or water
- Walnuts, for topping
- Thyme, for topping
- 1lb butternut squash (see note)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place walnuts in warm water and let soak while making the risotto.
- Start the risotto. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the onion. Cook until the onion is fragrant and soft; 8 or so minutes. Stir in the farro and cook for one minute, letting farro toast. Add in the wine and continue to cook for about 2 minutes until most of the wine has cooked away.
- Add 1/2 cup of the stock and stir. Let risotto cook until nearly all the stock broth has been absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup and let absorb again, repeating the add broth/let absorb, stirring frequently, until the farro is just about tender, about 40 minutes. You might not use all four cups- just taste along the way until the farro is tender.
- Heat your oven to 425˚F. While the farro is cooking, peel and cut the butternut squash into ½” cubes. Place on a sheet tray and toss with the rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Toss until the squash is well coated. Roast until the squash is tender and starting to brown, around 30 minutes.
- Finally, make the walnut cream. Drain the soaking water and place the walnuts in a blender. Add the water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Puree until smooth, adding a splash or two more water as needed.
- Once the farro is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in ¾ of the butternut squash and the walnut cream sauce. Stir and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the cream sauce has thickened a bit and the risotto looks creamy. Divide into four bowls and top with remaining butternut squash and freshly cracked black pepper.
Keywords: farro risotto, vegan risotto, walnut cream, roasted butternut squash
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.