The camera on my phone really is not cutting the mustard these days, I am constantly reminded that I need to upgrade. So that is my excuse for the terribly unimaginative photos that have been showing up on this page over the last wee while. Also it turns out that butternut and bacon farro risotto is not that photogenic really, the colors just aren’t right….. anyway moving on.
So this is the first time I have cooked farro and I was pretty stoked with how it turned out. I have been doing lots of research on “ancient grains” and have come across a lot of recipes for farro risotto. I love the texture and taste of pearl barley in savoury dishes like soups and stews etc and figured that farro would be similar, and it is.
As it turns out though farro is not quite as simple as it seems. Farro is actually a general name for three different varieties of wheat, einkorn, emmer and spelt. They are all ancient varieties of wheat that have been grown and consumed by Egyptian Pharaohs and Roman Peasants for centuries. Farro does contain gluten, but considerably less than our standard modern wheat, and as a whole grain is a great source of fibre, iron, magnesium, Zinc, B vitamins and even protein.
You can buy farro with its husk still on but you need to soak it over night first. Most risotto recipes like this one need pearled farro, which has had some of the husk removed but is still considered a wholegrain and can be a good change from your typical white rice risotto. The grocer where I got mine from only had pearled farro and it was just labeled farro, so if in doubt, just ask.
So I made this recipe up based on what I might do for a rice risotto but cooked it as for a farro risotto. 🙂 Ie, a bit longer and slower with less stirring
TBSP butter or olive oil
1 onion – finely diced
6 big cloves garlic – put in heaps, it is great for immune boosting among other things at this time of year.
handful of diced bacon – I used the off cuts from a bacon hock, have enough left for another meal and the bone is currently in the slow cooker making bone broth. Super economical way of getting that delicious bacony flavour into several meals without the price whack.
1 cup farro
dash of white wine
2-3 cups hot stock
2 cups diced butternut pumpkin
handful of grated cheese
In a good sized pot, melt the butter and saute the onions for a few minutes until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and bacon and cook for a few more minutes. Mix in the farro so that it gets nicely coated in garlicy, bacony butter, then pour in the dash of wine. You can of course leave out the wine but it does add a great base flavour than nothing else quite can. Pour in some of the hot stock and stir. cover with lid and turn down to a gentle simmer. Allow to cook, occasionally stirring and adding more stock. It will take about 40-50 minutes so a bit longer than rice. After about 20 minutes add in the butternut pumpkin and stir through. Continue to cook covered until you have a nice soft but slightly chewy grain texture and the pumpkin is just soft.
Stir in the cheese and add cracked pepper and salt as needed.
Serve it up with some steamed greens and your good to go.
I am definitely going to buy some more farro and try it in some other ways. I mean sure we can live on wheat and rice cos thats what we know, but variety is the key to life and health I think and learning something new never hurt anyone. 🙂