What’s an upstate New York local foods enthusiast to do when it comes to cooking with whole grains? No one wants to give up soothing comfort foods like creamy risotto. Fear not–the Finger Lakes farmers have you covered. Local grain growers like Lakeview Organics have been harvesting emmer (also known as farro), an ancient form of wheat that can replace rice in many dishes. Try it out as we’ve suggested in this recipe, and reap the creamy, comforting benefits of cooking with local grain.
Autumn Emmer Risotto with greens and mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil (rendered bacon fat works well)
2 small shallots, chopped
1 1/2 cups emmer wheat
1/2 cup dry Finger Lakes white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shiitake or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
2 cups washed and chopped greens (spinach, mustard greens, kale)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup toasted homemade rosemary breadcrumbs (optional)
In a medium bowl, soak the emmer in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes and then drain.
Warm the broth in a small stockpot over low heat. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the drained emmer and cook, stirring constantly until toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until completely absorbed. Continue adding the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cooked through, about 45 minutes.
While the risotto is cooking, heat the butter in a small sauté pan over low heat. When melted, add the garlic and stir for two minutes being careful to keep it from turning brown. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, about five minutes. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Set aside until the risotto is ready.
Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the mushrooms and spinach. Add salt and pepper, divide the mixture in four bowls and serve warm. If desired, top each bowl evenly with toasted breadcrumbs. Pair with your favorite Finger Lakes dry Riesling.
This recipe originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of the magazine.