A bowl of farro risotto with kale and feta.

A few weeks (months?) ago I wrote about Colu Henry’s Back Pocket Pasta. Many of you left comments noting your favorite back pocket recipes, and one of you pointed me to the barley risotto with marinated feta in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.

I made it and loved it and made it again and again. I wrote about it over on Food52. It’s a one-pot wonder made with water (as opposed to stock), and it’s seasoned with thyme, smoked paprika and lemon. I love the greens and cubes of feta gently folded in at the end.

Read more about it here.

A sauté pan with onions, farro, thyme, and a bay leaf.
Farro risotto simmering stovetop in a sauté pan.
Overhead shot of finished farro risotto.
Overhead shot of farro risotto with kale and feta added.
Overhead shot of finished farro risotto in sauté pan with spoon.
A bowl of farro risotto with kale and feta with a spoon.
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Ottolenghi's farro with tomatoes and kale

Farro Risotto with Kale and Feta

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4.8 from 18 reviews

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Adapted from the barley risotto with marinated feta in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped, to yield a heaping cup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pearled farro
  • 3 to 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 strips of lemon peel
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • one 15-oz can crushed tomatoes or one pound of diced fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces kale or chard, leaves removed from stems, finely chopped (about 4 packed cups)
  • 6 ounces feta, preferably in brine, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


  1. Heat the 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onions and garlic, reduce the heat to medium, season with a pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the farro, the thyme, smoked paprika, and chile flakes, and cook for one minute or until the grains are coated in the spices. Add the bay leaf, lemon peel, crushed or fresh tomatoes, and 4 cups of water. Season with a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is gently simmering, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every so often to ensure the farro isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. When ready, the farro should be tender and most of the liquid should be absorbed. Taste. If your crushed tomatoes contain salt, you might not have to add much here. I consistently add about a teaspoon of kosher salt, but I like salt, so adjust to taste. (Note: you may need to add water to thin it out at the end — each time I’ve made this, I’ve thinned it out with an additional cup of water, added incrementally.)
  3. When the farro is cooked, remove the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and lemon peel, and discard. Stir in half of the greens until they wilt. Add water if the mixture gets too thick. Add the remaining greens and stir until they wilt. Gently fold in the cubes of feta. Season with fresh cracked pepper. Taste and adjust as needed
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian