Entree/ Fall/ Sides

Too Damn Hot Tomato Farrotto

cherry tomato farrotto

Mid-September. The air should be feeling crisp, the mornings and evenings cool, leaves beginning to turn, pumpkin spice everything. Except in Pittsburgh, where it’s been in the high 80’s and our brand new grass is totally dead and my neighbors’ tropical flowers are in full bloom. PITTSBURGH. WEATHER.

I’m boycotting the stubborn heat, wearing a hoodie, and dreaming about Boots With The Fur. This recipe is ideal for seasonal limbo. Highlighting the best of summer tomatoes with the brightness of fresh basil, but leading the way into fall with the nutty flavor of farro and the coziness of a risotto.

cherry tomatoes in a red colander

Fun fact: farro is SUPER GOOD FOR YOU. I’m not going to provide any actual data to back that up because you have the Internet. Just refer to it knowingly as an “ancient grain” and no one will question your wisdom. It has a great texture and a distinct flavor. It brings something unique to the risotto party and we can’t stop eating it here in the Knudsen household.

farro grains in a glass bo

I like to cook down the cherry tomatoes with onion or shallot, garlic, and butter in a separate pan and then stir it into the farro at the end. If you put the tomatoes in right from the start the skins will get all peely and you will totally demolish the tomatoes with all the stirring. So don’t do that.

There are a lot of strong flavors going on here, from the salty/sweet tomatoes and tomato paste and the nutty bold farro, the salty parmesan, and the punch of basil, so I like to add a heaping spoonful(s) of mascarpone at the end to bring some creaminess and mellow out the dish. You don’t NEED to use mascarpone – you could easily add a splash of cream or a dollop of creme fraiche (or just stick with butter) but I personally like the flavor and texture of mascarpone.

Once the farro is tender and you’ve added the tomato mixture, throw in your tablespoon-ish of butter, handful of parmesan, mascarpone, and basil, stir to combine and let it sit for a minute or so to allow your farrotto to become extra wonderful.

white bowl of cherry tomato farrotto

We’ve been eating this on repeat for dinner, but it would also be an amazing side paired with something like pork tenderloin or a roast chicken. The grains take patience to cook, but there’s very little technical skill required here and so long as you cook the farro long enough, you really can’t mess it up.

cherry tomato farrotto

Cherry Tomato Farrotto

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Serves: 4 as a side, 2 as a main
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small onion or large shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock, warmed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • about 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 2-3 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • handful of basil, chiffonade



Prep the farro, garlic, onions, wine and stock, and onion.


In a smaller pan, cook onion in 1 TBS butter (or olive oil if you prefer) for a few minutes, and then add the garlic, then the halved cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes wilt and soften (5-10 minutes), and then turn off heat and leave to the side.


In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 TBS (ish) butter and a glug of olive oil. Once the butter is fully melted, add the farro and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring.


Off the heat, add the wine and then allow to bubble for a minute.


Slowly begin the process of adding increments of heated chicken stock, stirring to combine, making sure the grains are just covered and waiting until the liquid is absorbed to add more. This is going to take a good 40+ minutes for farro if you're like me and don't presoak your grains or do anything more to soften them in advance.


About halfway into cooking, stir a nice tablespoon of tomato paste into the center of your pan and stir so it coats all the grains. This will impart extra tomato flavor into the grains during the cooking process. I also like to add just a little bit of salt and a good amount pepper.


Test the farro for doneness. When it feels ready (it will have bite texture but should not be "crunchy"), add the tomato mixture and combine. Turn off the heat, and add a spoonful or two of mascarpone, parmesan, 3/4 of the basil, and a tablespoon of the butter. Stir it all to combine, and then cover the pan and let it rest for a few minutes. Taste for seasoning.


Serve topped with the remaining basil and parmesan.


This really serves four as a side. We make this amount for two adults to eat it as a main, with smaller servings for two small kids - yes, my kids both love it! If you want a more generous amount or plan to feed people who might want more than one scoop as a side, double the recipe. Also, really great to make ahead. Save parmesan and basil to top when serving, but feel free to assemble, cover, and heat gently before serving. Leftovers are a dream. My farro package says you can boil the farro in 30 minutes with less liquid - if you want to cheat the system and skip all the stirring and increments of stock, etc, just boil it and then add everything in at the end? Lazy farrotto.

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