Farro Risotto with Saffron and Scarlet Runner Beans | CUESA

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Farro Risotto with Saffron and Scarlet Runner Beans


Lorna Sass, author of Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1994).

Serves 4 main or 6 appetizer portions


½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 ¼ cups semi-pearled farro (labeled farro perlato)
⅓ cup dry white wine, vermouth, or sherry
3 to 3 ½ cups vegetable broth (see NOTE below)
1 ½ cups cooked Rancho Gordo Scarlet Runner beans (see NOTE below)
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese (or use a mixture of half parmesan and half romano), plus more for garnish
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme or rosemary, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


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

  2. 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. 
  3. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates.  Stir in 3 cups of the broth, taking care to scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 ¼ to ½ 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.
  6. Stir in the scarlet runner beans and cook an additional minute.  Turn off heat and stir in the cheese, walnuts, and thyme.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in shallow bowls or on lipped plates.  Garnish each portion with additional cheese.

Rice Variation:  Substitute 1 ½ cups arborio or vialone nanno Italian white rice for the farro.  Increase broth to 3 ½ to 4 cups.  Decrease cooking time under pressure to 4 minutes.

NOTE: To pressure-cook scarlet runner beans, use 3 cups water for 1 cup dry beans (do not pre-soak).  Add with whole cloves peeled garlic and cook for 28 minutes under high pressure and allow the pressure to come down naturally.  If the beans are not tender, simmer for a few minutes to complete cooking.  You can substitute all or part of the bean cooking liquid for the broth!


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »