Fall has officially arrived (the autumnal equinox). Where did the summer go? I’m not ready for fall. Summer don’t leave; I’m not ready to say goodbye…
I’ve seen pumpkins and squash, apples, and pears at the market, but my taste buds are not ready for those flavors just yet. There are still a few ears of corn lingering around and beautiful tomatoes to savor (at least in my part of the country). So, if these ingredients are still available at your local farmers’ market, this is a nice way to celebrate the last of the season’s bounty. One last hurrah for summer.
In my never ending quest for new and interesting dishes, I came across this recipe in Bon Appetit — farro “risotto” or farrotto as they so whimsically refer to it. The corn, after simmering with a few other ingredients, is then pureed in a blender to a smooth consistency. This gives the farrotto its creamy texture — in lieu of butter, which is normally used to produce a creamy risotto. Not that there’s anything wrong with butter, but just a lighter alternative while the weather is still warm. Save the butter for your fall risotto.
Farro is an ancient strain of hard wheat. You’ll often see pearled and semi-pearled varieties. If you have a choice, opt for semi-pearled; it has more of its fiber and nutrient-rich bran intact. Farro is a bit chewy in texture and adds nice nutty notes, which pair very nicely with this rustic dish. I grilled a few oyster mushrooms and added them on top. The earthiness of the mushrooms balance the sweetness of the corn.
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
2 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 cup semi-pearled farro
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup (1/4-inch diced) red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Corn purée (recipe below)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Grilled oyster mushrooms (optional)
Bring 2 cups of vegetable broth, farro, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Cook until the farro is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for semi-pearled (longer for pearled). Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes longer. Add the cooked farro to the skillet.
Add the corn purée to the farro and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth if needed (1/4 cup at a time), until the farrotto is very creamy, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Top with fresh tomatoes and basil (and grilled mushrooms — optional). Serve immediately.
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
Combine the corn, onion, oil, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and translucent (but not browned), 6 to 7 minutes. Add 2 cups broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, until corn is softened and cooked through and liquid is reduced by half, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.