Vegan Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash

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This comforting vegan farro risotto comes together on the stovetop without hours of stirring! Made with butternut squash and optional white beans for extra protein, this satisfying farrotto is perfect for guests or a cozy night in! I love it with a quick homemade chile oil.

This vegan farro risotto is craveable, restaurant-worthy dinner with minimal effort!

I try not to play favourites with my plant-based recipes…it’s kind of like saying you have a favourite kid. Buuuuuut…if I’m being honest, this incredibly flavourful, satisfying vegan farro risotto is one of my favourite recipes I’ve ever created.

Like, if I opened a cafe I would put this on the menu because I know people would go crazy for it. What else would I put on that menu? My vegan cashew alfredo never fails. Neither does the carrot, ginger and lentil soup spiked with Thai red curry. Oh, and the Blood Orange, Beet and Pistachio Salad from my cookbook Good For Your Gut.

Farro is one of those whole grains that doesn’t get enough plant love. Farro is an ancient wheat varietal that’s been eaten around the Mediterranean for thousands of years and it’s popular in Italian cuisine…hence this take on risotto, also called farrotto.

If you aren’t gluten free, farro is an incredible whole grain to get into your rotation. Let me put on my dietitian hat to show you just how nutrient dense this ancient grain is: just ¼ cup of dry farro contains 5 g fibre (making it a high fibre food), 6 grams of plant-based protein and minerals like 2 mg of iron.

Plus, it retains a satisfyingly chewy texture when cooked, whether you boil, steam or bake it so I find that it’s more filling that some other grains…which makes it fantastic for a vegan risotto! You can add in a can of white beans for extra protein to make this a complete vegan dinner.

And if you’ve shied away from making risotto in the past, fear not: you do not have to spend an hour stirring on the stove. Instead, you’re just sauteing the onion and squash on the stovetop, adding the farro and letting it simmer away. Magically, it will have that silky texture without all the stirring but I like to add a splash of cashew cream to take it over the top. A vegan risotto with only 20 minutes of hands on time? Sign me up!

Whip it up for a cozy night on the couch, or make it for a dinner party, along with my vegan caesar salad and chocolate mousse. This is one of those recipes that will wow anyone who tries it and they will never guess it’s vegan!

How to make this vegan farro risotto with butternut squash

Making this nourishing vegan risotto is so much simpler than you might expect. A couple of tricks to getting that craveable flavour: first, dice the onion and squash nice and small (about ⅓ inch cubes) so they cook faster. If you buy pre-cut squash to save time, just cut them smaller!

And instead of buying vegetable broth, make this with the recommended vegetarian “chicken” better than bouillon. It’s 100x more flavourful than boxed broth (and more affordable per serving!)

butternut squash, onion and farro in bowls
Just 10 – mostly pantry! – ingredients for a craveable vegan dinner.

Step One: Gather your (10!) ingredients. You’ll need a small onion, about 1.5 lb of butternut squash, farro, Better than Bouillon, dried thyme, garlic powder, nutritional yeast and cashew cream or storebought vegan cream. If you want, grab a can of white beans. And use chile flakes or, while the risotto is cooking, take 5 minutes and whip up a basic – and incredibly delicious – chile oil.

hand pouring farro into skillet with butternut squash
Start by sautéing the squash and onion and then add the farro to the pan.
hand pouring broth into skillet with farro and squash
add half a cup of water or broth to the pan and stir until the farro absorbs it completely.
spatula stirring vegan farro risotto
Stir the farro until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Step Two: Saute the onion and squash on medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Step Three: Add the farro and saute for one minute, stirring constantly. Then add ½ cup of water and stir until it’s almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Step Four: add the rest of the water, Better than Bouillon, thyme, and garlic powder and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and let it simmer away, stirring occasionally, until the farro has absorbed most of the liquid, about 30 minutes.

Step Five: if using beans, add them now and let them heat through along with the cashew cream and nutritional yeast. Adjust salt if necessary (I find it’s not!) and serve with chile flakes or homemade chile oil.

Skillet with water and squash
Then, you’ll add the rest of the water and seasonings and let cook for about 30 minutes…no constant stirring!
hand pouring cashew cream into vegan farro risotto
once the liquid is mostly absorbed, you’ll add the cashew cream and nutritional yeast and if you like, white beans
hand spooning chile oil over vegan farro risotto
I like to serve this with a super simple homemade chile oil or just some dried chile flakes!

Leftovers keep really well in the fridge for 3-4 days. Just reheat with a generous splash of water.

More nourishing vegan dinners:

  • Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Pesto Dinner
  • 30 Minute Green Pasta Recipe
  • 30 Minute Zucchini Orzo
  • Vegan Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

butternut squash vegan farro risotto on white plate with gold fork Print

Vegan Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash

This comforting vegan farro risotto comes together on the stovetop without hours of stirring! Made with butternut squash and optional white beans for extra protein, this satisfying farrotto is perfect for guests or a cozy night in! I love it with a quick homemade chile oil. Course Main Course, PastaCuisine ItalianDiet Vegan, VegetarianKeyword butternut squash, farroDietary Preference dairy free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian Prep Time 15 minutes minutesCook Time 30 minutes minutesTotal Time 45 minutes minutes Servings 4 servings Author Desiree Nielsen, RD

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion finely diced
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash about 1 ½ lb squash
  • 1 cup farro
  • 4 cups water divided
  • 4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian Chicken or omit and swap water for broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup cashew cream or storebought vegan culinary cream
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 14 ounce can white beans rinsed and drained, optional

For Serving

  • homemade chile oil or dried chile flakes

Imperial – Metric

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and squash, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and glossy, about 7-8 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Add farro, stirring constantly for one minute. Add ½ cup of water, stirring until mostly absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  • Add remaining water, bouillon concentrate, thyme and garlic powder. Stir and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and let bubble away, stirring occasionally, until liquid is mostly absorbed, squash is fork tender and farro is tender yet chewy, about 30-35 minutes.
  • If using beans, add them now in addition to the cashew cream and nutritional yeast, stir to heat through and serve with chile flakes or chile oil.

Notes

If making the chile oil at the same time, the perfect time to set it on the stove is once the farro is simmering. Let it steep while the farro cooks! If you’re nut free, there are vegan culinary creams (find them next to creamers in the dairy case) that are nut free!

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