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Pressure Cooker Farro Risotto with Saffron and Peas

by Lorna Sass


The pressure cooker turns out a creamy risotto in record time. It virtually yanks the starch out of the grains.

In Italy, a risotto made from farro is called a farrotto. Farro is an ancient variety of wheat whose starch creates a wonderfully creamy risotto. Most of the farro available in the U.S. is imported from Italy and semi-pearled, meaning that some of the bran has been rubbed off.

If you cannot locate farro, substitute readily available Arborio rice, and reduce the cooking time under pressure to 4 minutes.

Makes 3 main course and 4 appetizer portions


1/2 tsp saffron threads

1 1/2 TBS olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup semi-pearled farro (labeled farro perlato)

1/3 cup dry white wine, vermouth, or sherry

2 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (or use a mixture of half parmesan and half romano), plus more for garnish

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, stir the saffron threads into 1 tablespoon of warm water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger cooker. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the farro and coat with oil. Continue cooking and stirring until the farro releases a toasted aroma, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the broth, taking care to scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Quick-release the pressure according to manufacturer's instructions. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Stir in the saffron. Set the cooker over medium-high heat and stir vigorously. Boil uncovered, stirring every minute or so, until the mixture thickens and the farro is tender but still chewy, usually 1 to 3 minutes. If the mixture becomes dry before the farro is done, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the remaining broth, as needed. The finished farrotto should be slightly runny as it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate.

Stir in the peas and cook an additional minute. Turn off heat and stir in the cheese and walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in shallow bowls or on lipped plates. Garnish each portion with additional cheese.

Copyright, Lorna Sass, 2010

Lorna Sass is the author of WHOLE GRAINS EVERY DAY, EVERY WAY, which won a 2007 James Beard Foundation Award in the "healthy focus" category. Her website is www.lornasass.com. Sass is also the author of Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker.


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