Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Pea-and-Carrot Farro Risotto With Fresh Mint

If you’re dealing with not-quite-spring weather, this is the dish to feed you through the seasonal gap.

Cooking for the promise of warmer weather. (Photo: Ian Knauer)

Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

The sunlight is noticeably different now that we’re into April. It has shifted from cool blue winter hues to a warmer yellow that ushers in the spring. And as much as I like living in a part of the country that experiences all four seasons, spring is by far my favorite—it’s so full of hope and life and fresh starts. Thing is, it’s still really cold here, so that warm spring light just feels like a tease.

I want to be eating ramps and fresh peas and baby lettuces, but that stuff is still a month away, and anyway, the chill in the air still begs for more substantial meals. Imagine how thrilled I was when I walked into my house yesterday to find that my girlfriend had recycled a well-picked-over chicken carcass into a rich broth and was already stirring that broth into a farro rissoto with carrots from the cellar and some of last year’s frozen peas.

Farro, a whole grain, might seem like an odd choice for risotto. It does not have the starch that arborio rice brings, thickening the dish into a creamy porridge. But farro does have a much more interesting flavor than rice. It’s nutty with an earthy sweetness and has a slight chew. It makes for a wonderful warming risotto and is just the kind of dish that fills in the gap between cool blue winter and warm yellow spring.

Peas and Carrots Farro Risotto with Fresh Mint

Serves 4

6 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

4 carrots, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup farro

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup half and half

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Bring broth to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan.

Heat the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, then stir in the shallot and carrots along with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the farro, then add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. Add more broth, stirring, until the farro is tender but still has a slight chew, about 25 minutes. Stir in the peas and half and half and season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with mint.

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