Serves 4 to 6
Risotto, very popular at Felidia, is traditionally made with short grain rice. Farro is an ancient grain that is typically used for soups in regions like Umbria and Tuscany. When it is finished as risotto, as we do here, it is sometimes called “farrotto.” Farro was often used in ancient Rome, and was milled and used as flour before wheat became common. I love its nutty, complex flavor, its nutritional value, and the resilience it retains when cooked.
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup farro
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled
- 1 small bunch medium-thick asparagus, stems trimmed and peeled, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced, or 2 strips thick bacon, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the farro. Cook until al dente and still a bit chewy, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain, and spread on a baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a second pot of water to a boil. Add the favas, and boil for 1 minute to shock. Transfer with a spider to an ice bath to cool. Add the asparagus to the boiling water, and blanch until tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Add to the ice bath. Repeat with the peas, cooking until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, and pat all the vegetables dry. Remove and discard the skins from the favas.
Put the chicken broth in a small saucepan, and warm it over low heat. Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta. Cook until the onion is tender but not browned and the pancetta has rendered its fat, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the farro, and season with salt. Add a few ladles of the hot stock, and cook, stirring, as you would for risotto, adding stock as each batch gets absorbed. Simmer and stir until the farro is cooked to your liking but still al dente and creamy, about 10 minutes; add the vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking.
When the risotto is done, remove from the heat, and beat in the butter and grated Grana Padano. Serve immediately in flat, shallow bowls.