Every now and then I come across a recipe which is so good, with such a delicate or rich flavor, or just a texture which is completely new to me, I’ll make it over and over again. And every time I make it, I’ll personalize it just a bit more. This farotto is one of them.
Farotto is risotto made of spelt, and the Italian name for spelt is farro, you get the picture. Originally this is a recipe from Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall (author of the delicious and vegetarian recipes packed cookbook ‘Veg’, which my mom gave me for my birthday), already adjusted here and there to our personal taste.
To be honest, I never ate farotto in my live before, I was not experienced at all with this whole grain dish and had no clue how to prepare it, although I figured it couldn’t be that different from the original risotto. I googled a bit, and after numerous varieties of far otto, spelt salads and other spelt-dishes, I decided to give it a try. It was absolutely delicious and from now on a solid jab on the menu! The only thing.. (yess, there is a ‘but’, but only one) farro, or spelt takes for AGES to be done. And when I say for ages, that’s exactly what I mean. My god, I have been stirring in that pot for at least an hour.
And I figured, I must had done something wrong.
Luckily I was the one stirring in that pot, and not you, and so I found out what I should have done differently. Since I never cooked, baked, stewed or ate spelt in this whole-grain-form before, I didn’t exactly know what to look for in the store to begin with. I just bought spelt. On the back it said the spelt had to be pre-soaked for three hours, which actually turned me off right there. But alright, I gave it a shot, bought it, and soaked it in the morning, so I would be able to use in the afternoon. (I don’t know, but it gave me a macrobiotic feeling, which I didn’t exactly like). The recipe said to stir and cook the farotto in about 25 minutes (just like a regular risotto), which I did. But after 25 minutes it was not chewable at all, and certainly not right to serve yet. So I kept stirring and stirring, and adding broth, until, after an hour or so, – I still found them quite firm – I decided it was good enough. The taste was unbelievably good, and although the spelt was still quite tough, its taste made up for it for sure.
Though, the cooking time couldn’t be right – and also the book said something different – which brought me back to google again. (Thank God for google!) It told me that the whole grain spelt, as I bought it, had to be pre-soaked for at least 12 hours before using. Aha! So that was the trick! But if you’re like me, that’s not how we roll.. and pre-soaking for hours is just not something I like to do in the morning (for my evening dinner, come on!!).
The solution was clear and
yes, right in front of me in the book. I just over-read it in my enthusiasm, I guess! Instead of normal spelt, I should have bought pearl-spelt. Pearl-spelt has a removed outer kernel to make it more digestible and, yes, easier to cook. That’s it! It’s that simple! No pre-soaking, just stirring for 25 minutes, and done is your un-normally great tasting farotto with chewy kale and, leaks and soft goat cheese! —Mirjam Leslie-Pringle