Classic Italian risottos are made with plump Italian rice varieties like Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano. But you can also make risotto with some other grains, including the nutty-tasting, chewy ancient ancestor of wheat called farro. Look for it in the grains section of well-stocked supermarkets. Here, it combines with a wild-mushroom puree to produce a vegan dish that tastes rich, earthy, and very satisfying.
Wild Mushroom Puree:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, morels, porcini, shiitakes, creminis, and portobellos, or regular cultivated mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup dry sherry or Madeira
2 cups vegetable broth or mushroom broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup uncooked farro
4 cups vegetable broth or mushroom broth, plus a little extra as needed, heated to a bare simmer in a saucepan
Freshly ground black pepper
Shaved black truffle or minced fine herbs (such as chives, chervil, dill, and Italian parsley), for garnish
Wild Mushroom Puree Directions:
Pour the olive oil into a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn glossy and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat slightly, add the mushrooms, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and most of their liquid has evaporated. Add the sherry or Madeira and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Stir in the broth. When it is hot, puree the mixture with an immersion blender; or transfer to a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree, following manufacturer's instructions to avoid spattering. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the puree aside.
Farro Risotto Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until glossy and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the farro and stir until the grains are completely coated with the oil and smell slightly toasty, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth, reduce the heat slightly to maintain a light simmer, and cook, stirring continuously, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding broth in this way, 1/2 cup at a time and stirring constantly, until the farro grains are tender but still slightly firm and chewy, 20 to 25 minutes.Stir in the reserved Wild Mushroom Puree and cook until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and, if you like, add a small dash of sherry vinegar to brighten the flavor as you like. Spoon the risotto into shallow serving bowls. Garnish with shaved black truffles or minced fine herbs and serve immediately.