Tucked among the many grains stored in the depths of my overflowing pantry is a small sack of Italian farro, a delightfully thick and chewy whole grain that bears a strong resemblance to barley. In addition to its pleasant nutty taste, farro exhibits a starchiness unlike most whole grains. Overall, farro is much lighter than most grains because it contains a starch very similar to that old risotto staple, white arborio rice! The magic of farro is that you can cook it risotto-style, and it will produce a resulting “farrotto” that is nearly as creamy and decadent as regular risotto. While you may lose an ounce of the creamy softness characteristic of risotto (farrottos have a slightly chewier texture than regular risotto), you will make up for it in the buckets and boatloads of nutritional value gained if you opt for farro over arborio. Unlike arborio rice, farro is rich in fiber, protein, and a whole bunch of minerals/vitamins.
Farro is your friend, pretty much.
For a great long time, I had forgotten that this farro sack was still in my possession. Luckily, a cleaning spree on Sunday allowed me to rediscover it, resulting in tonight’s glorious dinner:
Summertime Gorgonzola Farrotto
- 1 1/3 cup farro
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 4 oz. gorgonzola cheese (or one heaping 1/2 cup)
- 1 tbsp EVOO
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 zucchini, cut into disks
- 2 summer squash, cut into disks
- fresh thyme (optional)
- salt + pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 and season zucchini + summer squash with a little sea salt and pepper.
Spray vegetables with cooking spray and spread on a pre-sprayed pan.
Place in oven for 20 minutes. Flip, and then continue roasting for 15-20 minutes more. Be careful to keep a close eye on them to avoid burning. Once fully roasted, remove from oven and set aside for later.
2. Meanwhile, heat veggie stock until boiling. Once boiling, cover with lid. You want this stock to be hot when you add it to your farro later on!
3. Once the stock is ready to roll, heat oil in a large pot or wok. Add onion and saute for 5 min or so until translucent and golden. Add garlic and saute until fragrant (about 30 sec). Dump in the farro and coat all the grains in the olive oil for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the wine into the mix. Stir the rice until the wine is almost fully aborbed.
4. Add 1/2 cup of hot stock and stir until stock is absorbed. Repeat this process until the farro is softened yet chewy. It will take about 30 minutes. After standing over a hot pot, you will very likely be sweaty by the end of this. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Just own it.
After a broth addition:
You may question your sanity midway through the stirring process. It doesn’t make the most sense to remain chained to the stirring needs of some stupid grain in a hot pot, but you shall persevere! It may take a lot of stirring and sweating, but I promise it will eventually look like this….
…and it will all be worth it.
5. Once farro is sufficiently soft and risotto-like, remove from heat and stir in cheese until combined.
You best not forget ’bout the cheese!
Once the cheese has melted into the farrotto, it will enhance the creaminess factor by a zillion.
It will also smell amazing. Brace yourself for a severe internal struggle over whether or not you should stop right here and eat it now! Screw everyone else! You’re the one slaving over the damn thing.
But don’t. Quiet those thoughts now. Wait just a bit longer….
6. Stir in roasted zucchini and summer squash.
7. Stir in veggies and divy up into bowls. Garnish each portion with some chopped fresh thyme and freshly ground pepper.
8. Now you can serve it!
This will serve four. It will also make four people incredibly happy. Great praise shall be heaped upon the chef. Revel in it…you earned it.
All joking aside, I think this is one of the best dishes I’ve ever created (in my long and illustrious 9-month cooking career…haha). Then again, it helps when you’re starting off with such great raw materials. How can you mess up a combination of fresh summer squashes, gorgonzola, and farro? It’s practically impossible.
I savored every last bite.
After working up quite the sweat making my farrotto, I craved something cool. I went with a serving of the mango sorbet, and it was the perfect choice.
Eaten with a mini-spoon in my new “sorbet cup” from Crate & Barrel. I heart C & B.
Beyond this fantastic farrotto dish, my Monday was fairly uneventful. I didn’t exercise today because Hal Higdon (the editor of Runner’s World and the creator of my marathon training plan) told me not to….If Hal says jump, I shall jump. If he says run 20 miles like a fool, I will run 20 miles like a fool. If he says take Mondays for a rest day, I will chillllll out on Mondays. Hal pretty much owns me for the next 18 weeks.
I officially start the 18 week plan tomorrow (gulp)! I’ll write a more detailed post about that whole ball of craziness sometime tomorrow evening.
Happy Monday bloggies!
Question: What’s your favorite summertime dish?
I’m all about the chilled grain salads when the heat strikes. And the ice cream, of course. 🙂