Farro Risotto with Fava Beans, Asparagus, and Fresh Herbs

Mmm, farro. If you don't know this grain, you are truly missing out. Truly. Big time.

Farro has been around for a long, long, LONG time, dating its origins back to Mesopotamia a few thousand years ago. Widely popular in areas of Italy, farro took the "backseat" to the growing and harvesting of other grains (like wheat) over the last 100 years but is making a huge comeback on the culinary track, mostly for its amazingly nutty flavor and nutritional value.

High in fiber and protein, farro also is nutrient-rich in B vitamins. It's a "good carb", to say the least, and it is unbelievably easy to cook and versatile in so many dishes - simply boil like pasta and add to salads, side dish to entree, etc. Herbs and nuts and dried fruit are pairing friends of farro, making for one tasty plate of goodness. Chefs all over the world are re-introducing it to their cooking repertoire, so why shouldn't everyone?

Move over brown rice - and HELLO farro.

I receive emails from chow.com (you should sign up for these recipes of you don't already) and came across this recipe for Farro Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus. Fellow Foodie and I decided to try it out for dinner one night with chicken, and we were overwhelmed with how amazing this recipe is. You cook the farro like risotto, but it isn't as daunting or fickle as making traditional risotto with arborio rice. Quite frankly, you can' mess this risotto up because the farro's texture always stays slightly firm.

This side dish is so flavorful with the herbs, asparagus, and fava beans, I had to re-share it. If you don't have tarragon, don't worry - we made it again with chives and it was even more fabulous.



1 C farro, rinsed in cold water
6-8 stalks large asparagus (about 3 cups), cut into 1/2" thick slices on the bias and blanched
1 pound (about 5 pods) fava beans, shelled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2/3 C dry white wine
2 C chicken broth or vegetable broth (I prefer chicken)
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Dried farro grains
First, bring a pot of water to a boil; add some salt and add farro to boiling water. Cook over medium high heat for 20 minutes until farro is cooked and slightly "puffy". Drain thoroughly and cool completely under running cold water. Set aside.

While the farro is cooking, shell the fava beans from their pods.

Fava bean pods
Fava beans with outer shell
Bring a pot of water to a boil; add some salt, and add the un-shelled fava beans to the water. Cook for 1-2 minutes and drain. Cool the beans down by running under cold water until able to touch.

Boiling fava beans with outer shell still intact

Drained and cooled fava beans
Peel the outer shell/membrane from the fava beans, exposing the bright green bean. Remove shell and set aside fava bean.

Removing outer shell from fava bean

Shelled fava beans ready to eat!
In a pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and then add the shallot and then sweat the shallot (no caramelization) for about 5 minutes or until the shallot get soft.

(Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in another pot until just under a boil - you will need this for the risotto)

Add the cooked farro to the shallot and bring heat to medium high, allowing the grains to slightly toast with the olive oil and shallots, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.

Add the white wine and cook until  no liquid is left in the pan.

Once the wine has cooked off, begin adding one ladle at a time of hot chicken broth to the farro, cooking over medium heat, until there is almost no liquid left in the pan. Continue this procedure until all of the chicken stock has been absorbed by the farro and becomes slightly "creamy" in look and texture (about 20 minutes - but may vary).

Add the cooked fava beans, blanched asparagus, and butter to the farro and mix well.

Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper.

And voila - farro risotto with fava beans and asparagus.

This dish is our new go-to side dish for just about any lean protein. It is amazingly fresh in flavor, healthy, and loaded with veggies reminiscent of Spring and Summer. Cheers and enjoy!

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