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Spring Farro Risotto

April 28 2008 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 14 comments

Last weekend, Kevin—bless his heart—agreed to do the grocery shopping. We had a really busy weekend, so I jumped at the offer. I also made a ridiculously detailed grocery list. I knew I had a couple things on the list that might be difficult to find, so I included some locational information. But, for some reason, I failed to do so when I listed “fava beans”—treating them more like plain old (easy-to-find) eggs or milk, rather than the spring delicacy that they are. He had no idea whether they were fresh, canned or frozen. No idea what they looked like. No idea that he might have to fight off other foodies at the store who’d also been waiting patiently for favas to make their brief spring appearance.

To Kevin’s immense credit, he found the favas. And he scooped up a big handful and proudly presented them to me when I got home. My heart swelled with pride. And, man, was I excited to finally try out this new-to-me ingredient. Well, um, what I didn’t realize is that an entire pound of fava pods yields a mere cup of beans. So the handful (five, maybe six pods) Kevin had previously proudly brandished resulted in a scant tablespoon or two of pods. And that was after the double-shucking (first, split open the pods and extract the beans; second, plunge the beans briefly into boiling water, drain and rub off the outer skins—see the top two rows of photos, above) that they require. Apparently, favas not only like to play hard-to-get, but they’re high maintenance too. Quite the divas.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

But, ooooh are they good: buttery and delicate and meaty. And brilliantly green, which made them fast friends with the other spring veggies Kevin had harvested at the store: peas and asparagus. A saute of the trio went into an earthy risotto made with farro instead of arborio. The final product was definitely skimpy on favas, but no matter. It was still creamy, comforting and hearty.

Spring Farro Risotto

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup farro (semi-pearled)
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3 to 4 cups chicken stock (if store-bought, choose low-sodium)
1 tablespoon greek yogurt (such as Fage 0%)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 pound fava beans, hulled*
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (leaving tips intact and separate)

In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, sauteeing for several minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the farro, salt and pepper; stir for one minute, being sure to coat the farro with oil. Add the white wine and cook until it’s absorbed. Add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing the farro to absorb the stock between additions. After adding 3 cups of stock, taste the farro. If it’s al dente, stop adding stock. If it still has too much of a bite, keep adding stock until it’s al dente. Once the farro is done, stir in the tablespoon of yogurt.

In another skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus tips, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the remaining asparagus, peas and favas, stirring for another few minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Add the vegetables and parmesan to the farro. Serve warm, with an additional dusting of parmesan and freshly-cracked pepper, if desired.

* To prepare the favas: first, split open the pods and extract the beans; second, plunge the beans briefly into boiling water, drain and cool slightly, and rub off the outer skins.

14 comments so far. »
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  1. Amy says on April 28 2008 at 7:55 am:

    Looks delicious; love all that green! Farro is currently my favorite grain. And I, too, had the same reaction the first time I shelled fava beans — they’re time-consuming, but definitely worth it. Looks great!

  2. diva@theSugarBar says on April 28 2008 at 12:13 pm:

    all my favourite vegetables in one dish! awesome..

  3. katy says on April 28 2008 at 12:42 pm:

    that’s really funny — i’m very impressed! my grocery store is definitely not carrying fresh fava beans yet, althought rhubarb just made an appearance last week!

  4. michelle says on April 28 2008 at 4:05 pm:

    this has all my favorite things in one dish. farro? check. asparagus? check. favas? check.

    but man, aren’t they the biggest fricking pain in the ass? so much protection for so little bean.

  5. Kevin says on April 28 2008 at 9:22 pm:

    Farro risotto sounds pretty interesting.

  6. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 29 2008 at 8:57 am:

    Amy: Thanks!

    Diva: I have trouble picking favorites in the veggie department, but these three are up there.

    Katy: I’ve been seeing rhubarb for a couple weeks. I went on a slight bender a couple weeks back … Here’s hoping you see favas soon!

    Michelle: “So much protection for so little bean.” Well said.

    Kevin: You know, I actually think I liked it better than traditional, arborio risotto. The tablespoon of greek yogurt really helped up the creaminess. Give it a try!

  7. Kari says on April 30 2008 at 7:29 am:

    I am making a version of this tonight after being inspired by a recipe from FoodBlogga. However, I wanted to use farro because it is healthier than arborio rice. I found you from Tastespotting.com, which is one of my favorite sights. I love your pictures, and this recipe sounds DELICIOUS. Thanks for the inspiration:)

  8. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on May 04 2008 at 7:01 am:

    Kari: Thanks! I hope your risotto was delicious.

  9. Kasey says on April 16 2009 at 9:47 pm:

    Farro is one of my favorite things and this dish looks like spring! I can’t wait to try this.

  10. Sharon says on September 21 2009 at 1:59 pm:

    I just featured this recipe in my latest blog post on my website: http://www.shar-on-nutrition. I enjoyed this recipe so much and like having an alternate grain for my risotto so it’s that much more healthy! Would love to hear your opinions or suggestions on my blog. :)

  11. Stephanie says on February 08 2010 at 12:11 pm:

    This is also something I made for my parents and it was AMAZING. I don’t like peas and didn’t want to go through hulling the fava beans (you lost me there :) ). So I doubled the asparagus and used white beans. Who knows where I got that, but it turned out great! It was better than regular risotto and so healthy! I had a hard time finding the farro (a helper at Whole Foods was uncharacteristically clueless and we ended up in the health and wellness area) but I’m so happy we were persistent because it was well worth it! I would definitely recommend this recipe.

  12. Jenn says on April 12 2010 at 12:33 pm:

    Hi. this recipe looks great! what would you suggest i substitute for the fava beans?

  13. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 12 2010 at 12:39 pm:

    Jenn: Thanks! You could try frozen baby lima beans or just omit the favas and bump up the peas and/or asparagus.

  14. Loretta says on April 13 2010 at 10:10 am:

    love the salad love farro

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