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Farro and Dried Porcini Risotto

By Chef John Ash

Farro is a favorite grain in Italy. The term farro is used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and still grown in Italy:  farro piccolo (also known by the German einkorn), farro medio (also known as emmer, the Hebrew word for mother), and farro grande (also known as spelt). The imported Italian farro available in the United States is usually the emmer variety. It’s usually labeled perlato or semi perlato (pearled) meaning it retains some, but not all of its bran and nutrients. It is still a very healthy grain. Most recipes are written for this kind of farro; which requires no soaking and cooks quickly in about 25 minutes. This dish pairs nicely with Sonoma-Cutrer’s bright, fruity Pinot Noirs such as the Owsley.

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    Serves 4

    Total Time

    Prep Time

    Difficulty Level Medium


    2/3 Cup chopped dried porcini

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1 cup finely chopped onion

    2 ounces diced pancetta

    1 cup pearled farro

    1/2 cup dry white wine

    - -

    Herb Sauce |

    2 cups packed chopped parseley

    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    2 teaspoons chopped garlic

    Big pinch red pepper flakes

    1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan or pecorino

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until pureed with some flecks of parsley remaining. Can be refrigerated covered for a day.


    1. Quickly rinse porcini and then soak in 2 cups warms water for 20 minutes or so. Drain reserving soaking water and chop the softened porcini.

    2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a soup pot and heat over moderate heat. Add pancetta and sauté for 4 or 5 minutes or until it is just beginning to brown. Add porcini and continue to sauté, stirring, until all are nicely browned. Set mixture aside.

    3. Add onion to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown around edges. Add farro and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened. Add wine, and stir to scrape up browned bits. Once wine is cooked off, add 1/4 cup porcini and water, and stir.

    4. Cook until absorbed, and repeat with remaining porcini and water mixture until farro is cooked to your desired tenderness (you might need more liquid). Sir in reserved porcini mixture. Season to your taste with salt and pepper.

    5. Divide into bowls, spoon sauce around and top with egg and parmesan.

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