Farro is barley from spelt rather than wheat. This is whole Farro (or spelt). You can also buy it pearled or semi-pearled apparently but I haven’t found it here yet. Pearling removes some of the outer husks, this means it cooks more quickly but you will also be missing out on some of the fibrey wholeness.
I bought half a kilo of broad beans at the market this weekend because they screamed “Spring” at me from behind a pile of cabbages and cauliflowers. I love cabbage and cauliflower but it’s nice when new things start to appear.
I also bought a bunch of wild asparagus, trigueros in Spanish. It is a very fine type of asparagus that grows wild in fields and at the side of the road underneath spiky bushes (very clever). There are sometimes rather scruffy looking men selling big bunches of it at roundabouts at this time of year. They are probably so scruffy because they have been scrabbling around underneath spiky bushes looking for the asparagus. They are the epitome of “being dragged through a hedge backwards.”
Revueltos de Esparragos Trigureros, is a classic Spanish dish where the wild asparagus is sautéed in pan until just tender then you add some beaten eggs and cook it all together. Scrambled eggs with asparagus basically. This is what inspired me to top this risotto with a poached egg. It’s lovely because if your egg is perfectly runny when you stick your knife in it the yolk runs into the risotto giving it a rich creaminess that works really well in this dish.
The flavour or the trigueros is slightly more bitter than the thicker asparagus and you still have to trim off quite a lot of the woody ends or the twiggy bits get stuck in your teeth I found, not attractive.
I cooked the farro using the risotto method, adding a ladleful of warm stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on. It took a long time to cook, about 40 minutes in total I think. If you are using whole spelt/farro like me then I would probably suggest that you cook it according to the instructions on the packet (mine didn’t have any). Cooking it normally, in water or stock, will probably shorten the cooking time, you still want it to be nutty and have some bite so don’t overdo it.
You can then add your broad beans, asparagus etc at the end of cooking and heat it all up together. If you are using normal asparagus you will need to blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes before adding it to the risotto at the end.
Farro Risotto with Broad Beans, Asparagus & Poached Egg
Serves 3, vegetarian
- 300 g Farro (spelt barley) I used whole but pearled or semi-pearled cook quicker
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 litre veg stock
- salt & black pepper
- about 30 g ( a handful) of grated manchego/parmesan, plus shaved to garnish
- 500 g broad beans still in their pod chambers (as in the picture above)
- 1 bunch of wild (or not) asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
- 100 g frozen peas, left to defrost
- a handful of chopped fresh parsley
- about 15 basil leaves
- toasted pine nuts
- 1 egg per person
- white vinegar
Remove the broad beans from their chambers, then put them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, rinse under the cold tap, then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale jade cases. Discard the cases. If using normal asparagus cook this in boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes until just tender, drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, set aside.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes.
At this point you can either:
1) Add in the uncooked farro, stirring to coat for a minute. Heat the veg stock in a small pan until hot but not boiling. Add two ladles of the hot stock to the farro and cook until absorbed then add another two ladles of stock, repeating until the farro is tender but still with a nutty bite. If you need more liquid add some boiling water from the kettle. Season with salt & black pepper.
2) Add the uncooked farro and the veg stock, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the farro is cooked, tender but still with a nutty bite. Season with salt & black pepper.
Then, when ready to serve stir the peas, broad beans and chopped asparagus into the farro stirring to heat through for a few minutes until cooked. Then stir in the cheese and most of the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning
For the poached eggs:
Meanwhile, using a pan big enough to hold all the eggs, fill it 2/3 full with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into separate teacups or ramekins.
When the water is boiling, squeeze in about a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir it with a wooden spoon very fast to create a little whirlpool then, quickly but gently, slide the eggs into the water, one at a time. Put on a lid and leave for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.
When the white is cooked, carefully lift the eggs out, one at a time with a slotted spoon onto a double sheet of kitchen paper to drain, cover the tops with another sheet of kitchen paper.
Serve the farro “risotto” in warmed bowls and carefully use the paper and spoon to move the poached egg on top of the farro. Season the egg with a little salt & black pepper and garnish the dish with some shaved manchego/parmesan, the rest of the herbs and the toasted pine nuts.
Have a Great Weekend Everyone!!