Pork Meatballs with Tomato Farrisotto

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pork meatballs with tomato farrisotto recipe
EE Berger/Grist

Spaghetti and meatballs is a dinnertime classic, but what do you do when you’re burnt out on noodles? Make Abra Berens’s recipe for pork meatballs with tomato farrisotto, from her new cookbook, Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes, instead. Wait, what’s farrisotto? Well, it’s like risotto (but made with a nutritious whole grain called farro instead).

“Most of the time I can’t be bothered to actually make these meatballs,” she writes, “and instead opt for just seasoning the ground pork and browning it in the pan before making the farrisotto, crumbling it on the top just before serving. That said, when you make little mini meatballs and nestle them into the creamy-tomatoey-slightly-chewy farro and top with a hefty grating of cheese, the care and time shows on the plate.”

The breadcrumbs, egg and cream bind the meatballs together and keep their texture light, but if you’re taking Berens’s shortcut, you can skip all three. “Meatballs toughen when overworked,” she explains, “so mix them gently, and when forming the balls don’t compact them like you would a snowball to throw at your worst enemy.”

Reprinted from Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021. Photographs © EE Berger.


1 pound ground pork

1 egg

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup breadcrumbs (optional)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried oregano

Neutral oil, as needed

1 onion (about 8 ounces), thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups pearled farro

One 14½-ounce can tomato purée

2 ounces Parmesan or pecorino for grating (optional)

5 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped (optional)


1. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, egg, cream, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and dried herbs. With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix until slightly tacky.

2. In a large skillet, heat a glug of neutral oil over medium heat. Pinch off a little bit of the meat mixture and fry it to check the seasoning and adjust as you like.

3. Scoop approximately 25 tablespoon-size meatballs onto a baking sheet, then lightly roll to make balls that hold their shape. Brown the meatballs on all sides until just cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F). Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside. Meanwhile, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.

4. In the skillet with the fat rendered from browning the meatballs, add the onion and garlic along with a big pinch of salt, and cook over low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the tomato purée and stir frequently until the tomatoes start to bubble and the liquid has started to absorb. Add a ladleful of the boiling water and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the water, a ladleful at a time, stirring regularly, until the farro is tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes.

6. To serve, portion the farrisotto into serving dishes. Top with the mini-meatballs and a hefty grating of cheese, and sprinkle with the chopped parsley (if using).

Nutrition Facts
  • 566 calories

  • 28g fat

  • 54g carbs

  • 28g protein

  • 9g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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