Arborio or carnaroli is the connoisseur’s risotto rice of choice. But the growing availability of alternative grains has led me astray from the traditional risotto rice and towards spelt, barley and farro. I love the nuttiness and gentle bite of farro, when slowly stirred into stock and spiked with just a few other flavourings.
This is a super simple midweek meal that can be put together from a quick freezer and pantry forage. I tend to keep a stash of frozen stock, but Marigold bouillon diluted in boiling water works well here, too.
Pea and lemon farrotto
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium brown onion, peeledand finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
Pinch of sea salt
150g farro or spelt
150ml white wine
750ml hot vegetable stock
150g frozen peas
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
60g Parmesan cheese, grated (swap for a Vegetarian-friendly cheese* or omit entirely if wishing to keep it dairy free)
Knob of butter (optional)
Heat a large sauté or frying pan on a medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic with a pinch of sea salt. Gently sweat for 7-10 minutes until soft.
Turn up the heat a touch and add the farro or spelt. Toast in the pan for 2-3 minutes before adding the white wine. Cook off the white wine and start adding the stock a ladle or two at a time.
Simmer and stir for 25 minutes or until tender to the bite (you may need more stock if the grains are still not al dente; the cooking time can vary).
Add the frozen peas and lemon juice and stir in to defrost.
Check the seasoning, adding black pepper to taste. Stir in half the Parmesan cheese. If you are feeling naughty, add a knob of butter and stir again. Divide between two plates and top with the remaining Parmesan.
The recipe originally appeared in my weekly Evening Standard column, find the full recipe here.
* If you are cooking for a vegetarian, make sure you use a veggie friendly hard cheese (The Everyday Vegetarian blog has some good suggestions!). Bon appétit!