Farro Risotto with Red Russia Kale

Posted on July 3, 2011

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I love experimenting with new ingredients, and Friday night’s kale harvest presented the perfect opportunity to do just that.  Between work, errands, socializing, and sleep, it often seems like I don’t have time to do much cooking.  This results in a lot of quick grain based dishes.  Nine times out of ten that means wheat pasta or rice.  Despite the myriad possibilities and umpteen varieties of each, it can get a little boring.  So I decided to try farro.

Farro is basically an old school type of wheat.  It is similar, but not identical, to spelt.  The cooked grain is chewy, mild, and very pleasant.  I think it would be a nice blank canvas for any number of sweet or savory flavor combinations.  This is what I came up with:

  1. bunch of kale
  2. 1 1/2 cups farro
  3. 4 cups water plus extra for soaking
  4. 2 large green onions
  5. 3 Tbsp olive oil
  6. 4 tsp chicken or vegetarian chicken flavor broth powder or bouillon base
  7. 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  8. freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the farro in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover.  Set aside and prep the kale. (Just cut out any tough stems and chop into salad sized pieces.)  Cut the green onions, keeping the green and white portions separate.  Dissolve the bouillon or broth powder in 4 cups of water and set aside.  Drain the farro, being careful not to dump any down the sink.  (I just use my hand as a strainer, but a large mesh strainer or a piece of cheesecloth will also do the trick.)  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the white portion of the green onions and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add farro and cook for two minutes more, stirring frequently.  Pour in a small amount of broth and add the green part of the green onions.  When liquid is absorbed, throw in the kale and a bit more broth.  Allow to cook 1-2 minutes and then stir, kale should wilt down quickly.  Add additional broth every five minutes or so, stirring each time.  Allow the farro to continue cooking until all broth is absorbed.  On my stove it took about 35 minutes to absorb the liquid.  (It wasn’t exactly quick cooking, but it didn’t require much watching, so I was able to walk away and do other things between additions of broth.)  Once the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and black pepper.  I recommend serving this dish hot, but the cold leftovers were quite tasty too.

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