Weekly Winner: Far-Out, Farr-otto!

Farro risottoI’m always interested in (if not always actively working towards) adding more whole grains into my diet.  Problem is, after trying several options, I’m not a big fan of alternative pastas or pizza crusts. I do, however adore farro.  Could this recipe for Farro Risotto with Crisped Prosciutto win me over to a healthier, more virtuous risotto??  Absolutely!! Did I feel like I sacrificed flavor for health? Not. One. Bit.

I think this might be the first recipe I’ve clipped from Health Magazine but it’s a keeper! This is a bit more “toothsome” and hearty than most risottos but quite delicious nonetheless.  I was dubious about the sunflower seeds … a whole cup! but that gave it a really nice nutty taste and subtle crunch.  The crispy prosciutto helped to make this feel like a decadent, luxurious dish rather than an inferior substitute dish to make you feel virtuous (um….like cauliflower pizza crust).  So make this dish … your conscience and your taste buds will thank you.

Farro Risotto with Crisped Prosciutto

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (from 2 leeks), white and light green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or more chicken stock)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 prosciutto slices
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Procedure:

  1. Place stock and 2 cups water in a large saucepan over medium heat; cover and let come to a simmer.  Adjust heat to maintain simmer.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch over over medium-high. Add leeks, thyme, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until begetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add sunflower seeds and farro, and cook, stirring often, until seeds and farro are toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine, bring to a boil, and cook until until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir salt and 2 cups of the simmering stock mixture into farro mixture, ad bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 5 more cups or the simmering stock mixture in 4 additions (1-1/4 cups at a time) stirring often until farro is very tender and liqsuid is mostly absorbed after each addition, another 15 to 20 minutes.  add asparagus and remaining 1 cup simmering stock mixture and cook until asparagus is tender, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in Parmesan and pepper.
  4. Place prosciutto slices between paper towers on a microwavable plate.  Microwave on high until crisp, about 2 minutes, stopping at 30-ssecond intervals after 1 minute to check doneness.  Break prosciutto slices in half or crumble. Top each serving evenly with prosciutto, and sprinkle with chives.  Serve immediately.

 

Weekly Winner: Pièce de Résistance Risotto

risottoWhat’s not to like about risotto, right?  It needs very little to be perfect.  Often, by adding a bunch of other stuff to it you only take away from the stunning simplicity of the dish.  Simple flavors are definitely the best.  The same can be said for tomatoes in summer.  Don’t mess with them.  They are fabulous just as they are — they need very little help to be sensational.  Put these two things together and you have the penultimate meal – Tomato and Parmesan Risotto.

The recipe for this bowl of awesomeness comes from Bon Appetit.  Honestly. after making this dish I am very tempted to trash all other risotto recipes.  They just seem overwrought and fussy.  However; perfect tomatoes will not be available year-round so maybe I’ll keep those other recipes around for the dead of winter.  Any other time, risotto means this dish.

Tomato and Parmesan Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more shaved for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:

  • Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm over medium-low heat until ready to use.

  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden and very soft, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it darkens slightly and begins to stick to pan, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and nutmeg, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the tomatoes begin to burst, about 2 minutes.

  • Stir in rice; season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 3 minutes. Ladle in 2 cups broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until completely absorbed, 8–10 minutes. Ladle in another 2 cups broth and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until rice is cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed, 12–15 minutes.

  • Add butter, 2 oz. Parmesan, and remaining 1 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until risotto is very creamy looking, about 4 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Divide risotto among bowls. Top with shaved Parmesan and lots of pepper and drizzle with more oil.

Weekly Winner: The Perfect Risotto

photoRisotto.  Creamy, luscious, warm, soothing, and gooey.  Really, what’s not to like?  And I do love risotto and always thought I was a bit of a purist about it until I discovered this recipe years ago.  I still make it regularly and I still consider it my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m still willing to try any and most recipes out there for risotto — but I always seem to come back to this one.  The recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.

Just a note here, almost every risotto recipe says that the whole adding broth and stirring process only takes 20 minutes and that risotto can be completed in 23 minutes.  LIES!  I have never had a risotto that didn’t take at least 45 minutes — and that’s just for the rice.  It is a bit of a labor of love but really, stirring isn’t that hard and you had to open wine for the recipe, so sip, stir and savor.  It will be worth it!

Risotto with Italian Sausage, Caramelized Onions, and Bitter Greens

Ingredients

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)

2 teaspoons sugar

8 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 cup Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice

1/3 cup white wine

2 cups arugula leaves

3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Preparation

 1. Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sugar to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until onion is golden. Place onion mixture in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Removing casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add chopped shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add Arborio rice; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in white wine; cook 45 seconds or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup hot broth; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in reserved onion, arugula, and remaining ingredients.