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
6 as a side
For the caramelized apples and fennel:
large honeycrisp apple, peeled and chopped (about 1.5 cups)
fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups)
For the farro risotto:
1 1/2 cups
farro (rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained)
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.
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.
For the farro risotto:
Add the chicken broth and apple cider to a saucepan. Maintain on a very low simmer during the cooking of the risotto.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Put the farro in a serving dish and top with chèvre, toasted walnuts, and parsley. Serve immediately.