Recipes From the Back of the Box: Farro and Cannelloni Bean Risotto

Usually I try to post recipes chronologically, but last night I made one of the best meals I think I’ve ever cooked, and wanted to share it immediately. And it was literally just the recipe on the back of an as-yet-unopened package of farro. It was my first time preparing farro and I had no idea what to make, and when I realized we had most of the ingredients, I shrugged and figured, why not?

The farro is prepared in a kind of risotto-like way, though it requires a lot less work because you don’t have to add the broth in increments. And it tastes incredible. What I love most about this recipe, and with risotto in general, is the combination of savory flavors. Usually I add flavor to my cooking with spices and other seasonings, but the wine, broth, tomato sauce, and parmesan in this dish come together like magic to create a rich, salty, lip-smacking mixture. I made it my own (and worked with the ingredients I had on hand) by preparing my own tomato sauce, switching beef for cannelloni beans, adding garlic to the sofrito, and throwing in some capers I happened to find in the fridge.

Because all of the sauce gets absorbed into the farro and the vegetables, this dish sits like a stone in your stomach. Be forewarned: you need a lot less than you think you do. Though the recipe didn’t look like it yielded much, it was enough to satisfy four hungry people and still have some food left over.

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked farro

– 1 1/2 cups water

– 1 Tbsp olive oil

– Garlic, minced

– Half an onion, diced

– 2 stalks celery, diced

– 1 carrot, diced or finely chopped

– 1 can cannelloni beans

– 1/2 cup white wine

– 8 oz tomato sauce (which I made by combining half a can of tomato soup with half a can of tomato paste)

– 1 cup chicken broth

– Capers

– Parmesan cheese, grated

Step 1: Prepare the farro according to package directions — boil 1 1/2 cups water, add the farro, cover and let simmer for around 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. You want the farro to be al dente — edible but with a slight chew — because it will continue to cook when you add it to the vegetables.

Step 2: Prep the rest of your ingredients. So for me, this meant chopping the vegetables, making the chicken broth (I use a powdered mix), and hodge-podging the tomato sauce. To “make” the sauce, I combined canned tomato basil soup with tomato paste over medium heat, stirring frequently to make sure the heated sauce didn’t stick to the bottom and burn. When the sauce has thickened and appears to be the right consistency, take it off the heat. I’m not sure if this is a real thing that people do when they need tomato sauce and don’t have any, but it worked just fine for my purposes.

If the sauce congeals while cooling, just give it a quick stir and it should immediately go back to its normal consistency.

Step 3: Heat olive oil over medium heat, sauté garlic until browned, around 30 seconds, then add the onions.

Step 4: When the onions turn yellow and begin to sweat, add the celery and carrots. These should take slightly longer to go soft. When they do, add the cannelloni beans (I forgot this part and added them in later).

Step 5: Add the wine.

Step 6: When the wine has mostly reduced, add in the tomato sauce, then the chicken broth. (Now would also be a good time to remember about those cannelloni beans…)

Step 7: Add the cooked farro to the pan.

Step 8: Let simmer for 10-20 minutes, until the liquid has all cooked down.

Step 9: Add in the capers and stir in a heap of grated parmesan. As the cheese melted, the dish should stick together and start to look more like risotto.

This is a heavy dish, so to lighten the meal up a bit, I made a side salad with tomato and basil, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.

 

 

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