Farro Risotto with Diced Summer Squash, Tomato, and Onion

This risotto-like dish is more toothsome made with farro (a kind of wheat) rather than rice and has a deeper flavor that contrasts nicely with the bright flavors of the squash and tomatoes. Squash such as Costata Romanesco, Cousa, or especially the Dr. Seuss looking Tromboncini (from Borba Farms) are low moisture squash that sauté nicely and pick up color, and stay crisp or even crunchy, without getting bitter or mushy as many other summer squash do. These squash are perfect for this dish. For tomatoes, use something firmer, but brightly flavorful. The contrasting colors add a nice touch.


3-4 medium summer squash, various colors, (2-2½ cups) cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium white or yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup semi-perlato farro, rinsed
½ cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1-2 medium tomatoes (1-1½ cups) seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram, thyme, or a combination, chopped
1 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil as needed
1/2 Meyer lemon (optional)


In a large pot, bring the stock to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Heat a straight-sided 2½-3 quart sauteuse pan  over medium-high. Film well with oil and heat the oil. Add the squash and cook just until it picks up a little golden color. Transfer to a bowl, then cook one-fourth of the onion just until it is no longer raw. Transfer it to the same pan with the squash. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the rest of the onions to the pan, adding oil if the pan is dry, and sauté onions until very soft. Add the garlic, marjoram and thyme, season with salt and pepper and sauté until fragrant.

Add farro and toss to coat with the oil. Cook until a toasty aroma comes up.

Add all the white wine and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is reduced to almost nothing.

Stir in 2 cups of hot stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until stock is reduced almost entirely. Add 1 more cup of hot stock and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until reduced almost all the way. Repeat with 1 cup of stock each time. After the third addition of stock has cooked down, taste the farro. By now, 20-25 minutes should have elapsed, and the farro should be getting tender with a nuttiness to it. Add one or two more additions of stock as needed to cook the farro until it is done  — it will still be a little chewy, but will be tender and cooked through. For the last addition of stock, stir the farro while the liquid cooks down. This will help develop some of the starchy quality of a risotto.

When done, season generously with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley. Scatter with the squash, onions, and tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil and carefully fold these ingredients into the farro. Taste the dish and decide if you want to add some lemon juice. If so, squeeze the lemon over the farro, being sure to catch the seeds.
Serve hot.


  • Add a little butter at the end for a richer and nuttier flavor.
  • Grate in some Parmesan or Romano cheese at the end, before serving.
  • Add basil and/or mint, shredded or cut chiffonade and add with the parsley at the end of cooking.
  • Drizzle a bit of high quality extra virgin olive oil on at the end of cooking or pass it as a condiment with the farro.

YIELD: Serves: 4

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