Risotto has a reputation for being time-consuming and difficult to prepare, but that couldn’t be less true. Risottos are one of my go-to dishes for a quick weeknight dinner packed with vegetables. While I do love the traditional Arborio rice version; I usually make mine with a more nutritious grain, like farro or barley, to get more vitamins, protein, and fiber in my meal. The dish pictured is with farro, but barley can be substituted and is generally cheaper and easier to find in most supermarkets.
One thing that people always get down on risotto for is the constant stirring, but the secret is: you don’t really have to stir it that much! Especially when using an alternative grain, stirring doesn’t need to be that continuous. I stir mine every 15-30 seconds, to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and to redistribute the broth. It does tie you to the kitchen, but I find it helps me get my kitchen-centric chores done! *stir* put away plates *stir* load dish washer *stir* sweep under the stove, you get the picture. Stirring doesn’t hurt it though, so if you want to get in an upper body work out and really open up those pores go for it. This dish is pretty forgiving so it’s well suited to both busy cooks that need to multitask and those trying to find their zen in the kitchen. Either way, the end result is delicious!
Spring Vegetable Farrotto
Serves 4 (1 1/2 cup serving – 380 kcal, 8g fiber, 18g protein)
- 1 1/2 cups dry farro or barley
- 4 cups chicken broth (or veg alternative)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 lb asparagus cut into 1 in pieces
- 1 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- salt & pepper
- Combine juice from the lemon and broth in a saucepan and heat on low so it’s warmed through and at the ready.
- Heat olive oil in large heavy bottomed sauce pan (I like to use my dutch oven).
- Sauté onion in the olive oil until translucent, 3 min, add garlic when onion is just about done.
- Add the farro and stir to coat in fat and begin to toast slightly, 1 min.
- Ladle in the first cup of chicken broth, bring to simmer then turn heat down to low, while stirring continuously (see above remarks on stirring).
- Keep ladling in broth as it is adsorbed until almost completely adsorbed and the farro holds shape when a spoon is ran through it. This whole process will take ~25 min. Taste the farro for texture. You can add more broth or water if you run out of broth but the farro is still too al dente for your tastes.
- Add butter, cheese, and one loose tbsp of lemon zest and stir until combined.
- Stir in the fresh vegetables and turn heat down to lowest setting while covering pot for 3-5 min, stirring every min. You’re just trying to lightly steam the vegetables so they’re still bright green and crisp. The different textures are really the star of this dish for me.
- Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- For presentation purposes top with a little more grated cheese, fresh ground pepper, and little extra lemon zest.
- I like to serve mine with a fried or poached egg, and/or poached shrimp, but really anything goes! The world is your oyster!