Farro, asparagus, leek and white wine risotto

I actually made this a while back, trying to make the most of the fresh spring greens that were in season. I think that leeks and asparagus are at the end of their season now so maybe not at their best, but that doesn’t have to stop you from making this. It would still make a really nice and light summer lunch or dinner.

Farro is an ancient grain, similar to barley and spelt. It is used widely in Italy in soups, salads and other dishes. I have used it here in place of traditional risotto rice to give a nice nutty taste and slightly chewy texture.

I have never cooked with farro before and I think you can buy various different varieties, and some require soaking overnight. I was using a quick cook variety from Waitrose so the timings of cooking may be different if you are using a different brand.

I was half following a recipe from chow.com that states to soak the grains and cook them before beginning the process of cooking the risotto. See the recipe here if you are a bit confused!

I soaked my farro for 20 minutes then cooked it for 10 (before cooking the risotto). If you are not using a quick cook variety I assume you would need to soak it overnight and then cook it for longer, so follow the instructions on the pack you have bought.

Farro, asparagus, leek and white wine risotto

SERVES

3-4

INGREDIENTS

250g farro (I used Waitrose Love Life quick cook)
450g asparagus
140g leek (1 medium leek)
2 handfuls frozen peas
750ml stock/2 stock cubes
3 shallots
1 large clove of garlic
Olive oil
200ml white wine
Zest of one lemon
2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
Salt
Black pepper
Parmesan (to serve)

METHOD

First prepare the farro.

Soak the farro in cold water for 20 minutes.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the farro on a medium heat for about 10 minutes (this will be different if you are not using the quick cook variety). Once cooked, drain and cool the farro by rinsing it under cold water and set aside.

Now prepare the veg.

Defrost the peas by covering in boiling water and draining them. Set aside.

Steam the asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes, and set aside.

Chop the leeks thinly and fry in a little olive oil and set aside.

To prepare the risotto:

Make up about 750ml of vegetable broth using two stock cubes and heat in a saucepan. Leave it simmering so that you can ladle it into the risotto.

Mince the shallots and garlic.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until soft.

Add the cooked farro and stir everything for a few minutes.

Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated.

Add a ladleful of the sock to the risotto pan and stir until it has all been absorbed. Keep adding ladles of stock and stirring frequently for about 20- 25 minutes until you have used all the stock and it has all been absorbed.

Taste the farro, it should be tender but still with some bite to it.

When you think it is ready, add the asparagus and leeks and stir to combine.

Remove from the heat and grate in the zest of your lemon and add the chopped parsley.

Stir in the butter and season well with salt and black pepper.

Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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