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
cups vegetable broth (3 vegetable cubes)
cups butter, divided in 2
bunches olive oil
sprigs of thyme, only the leaves
large leak, only the light parts
very large hands of chopped kale
cups pearled spelt
cups parmasan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chili olive oil (best made self)
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil, add the vegetable cubes and lower the heat. Leave it on there the whole time.
- Heat half of the butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet at medium heat.
- Cut the onion
- Crush the garlic
- And add it to the skillet.
- Add the thyme, and stir fry for about 10 min. or until the onion turns soft.
- In the meantime, slice the leak in firm rings. Wash and drain.
- Remove the thick stems and veins of the kale, and cut them in small pieces.
- Steam the kale until it gets soft, but still has a bite.
- Than, add the pearl-spelt to the onion-mix and stir along for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and let it absorb totally.
- Now start adding the broth, first time, make sure your spelt is totally covered.
- Keep stirring and adding broth when it’s drying up again.
- In the meantime, heat the other half of the butter and olive oil (2 tbsp) on medium heat, and start frying the leaks.
- Stir now and then, until they turn light brown but still have a bite
- After about 25 minutes you should be able to take the farotto off the heat, add the leaks and steams kale, and whisk it all together well.
- Bring to taste with the Parmesan cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper
- And divide over your plates.
- Add the slices of goat cheese on top and royally sprinkle the chili oil over the dish.