Finding english peas at the farmers market is like hitting the jack pot for me. If you’ve only ever had frozen peas….then you are in for a treat. Sweet, firm and pop in your mouth. A beautiful texture that you can truly only get from fresh peas. At first shelling may seem like a bit of a time commitment, but absolutely worth the extra effort (like most things, right?). I promise.
Back in my pre baby life I used to make a killer risotto at Spiaggia. It was divine. Creamy, delicate and the perfect vehicle to carry beautiful seasonal ingredients. Risotto is so great like that. It’s a canvas really for anything. I happen to love peas, but you could switch this recipe out with mushrooms (hen of the woods would be my preference), squash, local corn, asparagus. The list could go on.
Now if you have an Italian mother, she would probably scold you for using anything other than arborio rice (which by the way is named for a town in Italy where it originated). But not me, I am 100% german blood, so this girl can take some liberties with her risotto.
Risotto is really a style of cooking. Let me repeat that. Risotto is a style of cooking, not a food. Risotto literally translates to “an Italian dish of rice cooked in stock with other ingredients such as meat and vegetables”. So you could have brown rice risotto, quinoa risotto, or in this case farro risotto.
If you’ve never cooked with farro, put it on your culinary bucket list. It’s firm, nutty, and typically a thicker texture than a traditional “rice”. While faro is not necessarily gluten free, it contains very low levels of gluten, and if prepared properly, the gluten is pre-digested and broken down by sprouting and fermentation. This makes it a great grain for someone who is sensitive to gluten (If you don’t know about sprouting click here for my sprouting and fermentation 101). Farro is also packed with fiber, protein, magnesium and iron. Need I say more?
On this particular afternoon I was blessed to have almost all of my ingredients from my local farmers market. Local onions, fresh shelled peas and pea shoots that were truly the star. But work with whatever you find at your market that afternoon – or worse case scenario – whatever your freezer has in stock that day. Work with what you’ve got….and enjoy!
- 4 tbs good olive oil
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 small onions, chopped fine
- One cup of Farro, preferably soaked overnight
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- One cup fresh shelled peas
- 1 tbs of truffle butter
- Handful of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Handful of pea shoots
- ** To make vegan eliminate butter, parmesan, and use vegetable stock
- Using a dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Gently cook onions until translucent, about five minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste
- Add farro, stirring to gently toast the grains for one minute
- Slowly add one cup of chicken stock. Continue to stir until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
- Continue this process of slowly adding liquid and stirring, until you’ve incorporated all of the liquid (between 3-4 cups)
- Continue to let farro cook until tender (will take between30-40 minutes for farro to be cooked through)
- At this time, lower heat to simmer and add Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh peas. It will only take a minute to heat through. Do not overcook peas. I also like to stir in 1 tablesppon of truffle butter for an extra dimension. Again, do not overheat truffle butter (peas and truffles are very delicate - low heat only)
- Server immediately and top with pea shoots.