Before we start talking about this farro "risotto" with mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese, I realized there are some things some of you probably don't know about me. And it's time to come clean. First, I am obsessed with micro pigs -- mini pigs, teacup pigs, all of them. Seriously. Whenever I'm having a bad day, I just do a Google image search for them, and I instantly feel better. (Try it. The cuteness is almost unbearable.) If only Jeff would agree to getting one for a pet. I'm sure Gunner, our 90-pound chocolate lab, would love a micro pig for a companion.
Second, I went to boarding school for high school. And no, my parents didn't send me there because I was a bad kid. (I was a straight A student and thought the world was going to end the day I got a tardy slip in middle school.) I chose to go. I went to a small all-girls' boarding school not far from home where I was challenged in academics and sports (I played field hockey and lacrosse) more than I've ever been in my life. (Who reads War and Peace in high school?!) I also had incredible classmates from all over the world, many of whom became great friends. Those are four years I'll never forget.
And last, which is just so boring compared with those first two admissions, I don't like risotto. I know. Everyone loves risotto. And I try to like it, but it's just not my thing. The texture just seems so wrong to me. I guess I prefer my rice grains more distinct. So I end up making other things risotto-style, like this farro risotto, or farrotto.
Farro is a nutty, hearty grain that retains its nuttiness even after being cooked risotto-style. With its pleasantly chewy texture, it makes a nice backdrop for any number of toppings. (And I think it's a bit more nutritious and filling than rice.)
I made this farro for dinner on Tuesday night when it was about 40 degrees outside ( April, what happened?), and it only seemed right to throw in spring vegetables and wish the weather would catch on. While my farro simmered away on the stove, I sauteed sliced white mushrooms until they were good and brown. Sure, you can take them out as soon as they look cooked, but if you wait for all the liquid to evaporate and keep on cooking them, they become beautifully browned and give off a toasty, nutty aroma.
Then I sauteed a leek and threw in some asparagus when it was almost done, so the asparagus would cook just slightly and keep its crispness.
Once the farro was done simmering (it needs a head start or an overnight soak before being cooked risotto-style), I transferred it to the skillet, where I'd just cooked all the vegetables, and I added chicken broth to it, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, but not constantly, after each addition. This gave the farro that nice creaminess that risotto is known for.
When I stirred the vegetables into the creamy farro mixture, the thickened broth coated them like a sauce, creating a cohesive dish. A little sprinkle of salt and pepper and this farrotto was ready to be doled out. The individual servings just needed some final touches.
Goat cheese always seems like the perfect accompaniment for asparagus and mushrooms and it worked perfectly here, adding a little tang and extra creaminess to the dish. (Your farrotto won't look so pretty, but don't be afraid to stir it in before digging in.) For brightness, I recommend serving the farro risotto with a wedge of lemon.
Farro "Risotto" With Mushrooms, Asparagus, And Goat Cheese
This hearty spin on risotto features nutty, creamy farro
with mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese.
with mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese.
Print this recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup farro, rinsed
1 (8-ounce) package white mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and sliced thin
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly, and cut thin crosswise
½ bunch of asparagus (about 15 spears), trimmed and cut into 1-inch-lengths
2 cups chicken broth
Crumbled goat cheese, room temperature
Combine farro and 3 cups water in pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain farro and return to pot.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are nicely browned, about 12 minutes. (This takes awhile because the mushrooms will release a lot of liquid and all that liquid needs to evaporate before they’ll start browning.) Transfer to plate.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add leek, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to plate with mushrooms.
Add farro to skillet and stir in ½ cup chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high and stir frequently. Once broth has been absorbed, add another ½ cup, and stir again until broth is absorbed again. Repeat 2 more times, adding 2 cups total.
Off heat, stir leek, asparagus, and mushrooms into farro. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon into individual bowls.
Serve topped with goat cheese and lemon wedges.
Even if you're a diehard risotto fan, I think you can find some room in your life for farrotto, which offers the same creaminess but also a welcome nuttiness.
Do you like farro? What's your favorite farro dish?