Farrotto – Not Another Name for Rice
This post written by our resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
Farro is one of my favorite grains that I think about making a lot more often than I really do. Its firm, chewy texture and earthy, nutty flavors are perfect seasonal complements to the dark leafy greens and winter squash that are abundant right now. January is always a good impetus for me to delve deeper into my whole grain repertoire, especially really robust grains that are easily turned into a hearty and satisfying meal. So this week I decided to finally make use of the bag of Bluebird Grains farro that has been staring sadly back at me for far too long as I more often reach for its pantry neighbors—jars of Arborio, brown rice, quinoa and couscous.
Being a big fan of risotto, as I clicked through my usual online recipe haunts, I was drawn to the notion of making a dish using farro instead of arborio, which is apparently, now commonly referred to as “farrotto.” While the traditionalist in me kind of balks at this manipulation of the classic Italian dish, the romantic in me is more than happy to stir a pot of steamy grains and stock on a chilly weekend evening when there is also time to enjoy a glass of wine and just the right music mix to suit my mood. Farro is also much less persnickety about how much stirring attention it gets. Now that’s a grain to love.
There are a lot of grains that are getting the “otto” recipe treatment these days — everything from orzo (a small pasta shaped like rice) to barley. This combination would also work beautifully with either of those or even regular risotto. Just skip the parboiling step and adjust liquids/cooking time accordingly. I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand so I used this rub instead.
With farro’s high protein, this makes a great vegetarian dish. But if there is impending need to appease carnivores, it would certainly be fabulous with the addition of some crumbled cooked sausage or bacon at the end.
Farrotto with Delicata Squash
Adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe in Cooking Light
1 cup uncooked farro
6 cups water, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups (or 1 large) leek, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2cup white wine
2 cups stock, divided
4 cups delicata squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup packed)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Parboil farro in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leek and shallots; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add farro and garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until wine evaporates. Add 1 cup water; cook 8 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium low, add 1 more cup water and stir until that is absorbed, adjust heat to a simmer that allows the farrotto to take about 15 minutes to absorb the liquid. Add 1 cup stock and do the same. Stir in remaining 1 cup stock, squash, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until squash is just tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese; sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.