Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

October  6, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This dish is all about the balance between savory and sweet fall flavors. I find that I can't get enough apples this time of year—raw, in cider, or in sauce. I thought apples would be a wonderful complement (in chunks and using the cider to cook) to hearty farro risotto, but I didn't want the dish to be too sweet so I balanced it with savory onions, garlic, and fennel, topping everything with sharp chèvre. The toasted walnuts add a necessary crunch and a bit of orange zest makes the whole dish bright. This dish pairs well with roast pork and chicken. —meganvt01

Test Kitchen Notes

Megan's Farro Risotto is a comforting, fall-inspired party side dish. The creaminess of the risotto and the tartness of the apples worked surprisingly well together and the crunchy walnut topping and hint of orange zest gave it a well-rounded finish. I served this with a roasted whole chicken and a glass of earthy Tempranillo. I am definitely looking forward to serving this again!  —The Editors

  • Serves 6 as a side
  • For the caramelized apples and fennel:
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple, peeled and chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • For the farro risotto:
  • 1 1/2 cups farro (rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained)
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup chèvre, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
In This Recipe
  1. For the caramelized apples and fennel:
  2. This can be done concurrently with the risotto. In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter with the olive oil and add the apples and fennel. Salt and stir.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. At first the mix will release liquid then they will start to cook down -- after about 10 minutes, keep an eye on them so they don't get too brown. When they are tender and brown, deglaze the pan with the wine scraping up any brown bits. Reserve.
  1. For the farro risotto:
  2. Add the chicken broth and apple cider to a saucepan. Maintain on a very low simmer during the cooking of the risotto.
  3. In another saucepan add the olive oil and onions and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Add the drained farro and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently and allowing the grains to toast slightly. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  5. For the next 30 minutes (approximately), add the cider/broth mixture to the farro mixture by ladlefuls. Stir after each addition and cook until the liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat until the farro is tender but still al dente (or to your desired doneness).
  6. When you add the last ladleful of the broth/cider mixture and the liquid is almost gone, add the caramelized apples and fennel, fennel seeds, orange zest, Parmesan, and butter. Stir and season to taste.
  7. Put the farro in a serving dish and top with chèvre, toasted walnuts, and parsley. Serve immediately.

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Recipe by: meganvt01

After spending years in school while working full time, I'm happy to finally have my evenings pursuing my other passion, cooking! I have a 4 year old boy and a husband that are both adventurous eaters and supportive tasters. I spend a good bit of my vacation travel preparation researching local and regional foods and my friends all make fun of my food obsession. I've always been pretty confident with my techniques cooking from recipes but I am enjoying Food52's challenge of putting those techniques to work for my own versions of my favorite foods. I love to learn and the group of people that contribute to this site are a great resource. As an Annapolis native, I love to cook with our local produce and seafood whenever possible. I try to support our community of fisherman, farmers, other food producers and chefs as much as possible.