farro risotto with mushrooms and asparagus

farro bowls Alrighty, I’m finally here... a member of the food blogging world. Grateful Grazing has been on my mind for some time now. I’ve been concocting and cooking up ideas for a bit longer than expected and I am so excited to finally be able to share them with you here.

I hope to inspire you to put your body and health first and add some vibrancy and fresh ingredients to your meals. Let’s get in the kitchen, get our hands dirty and create delicious meals and memories. There is so much gained from creating and sharing a home cooked, fresh, nutritious meal with those you love. I hope my stories, recipes and tid-bits of nutritional knowledge spark your imagination and inspire you to conjure up fresh, flavorful meals and memories in your own kitchen.

I’m always working on adding variety to my meals in anyway that I can. I find it easy to get stuck in the habit of eating the same grains (such as rice) over and over again. There are so many great grains out there, all with varying nutritional value, so why not change it up now and then? I recently rediscovered farro, and had forgotten how great it is. Farro has a great, slightly chewy texture that adds sustenance and bite to a dish and can be used as a substitute in many grain dishes.  Farro is among the most ancient of grains. Its exact roots seem to be unknown; some say it is a variety of spelt while other sources say it’s an ancient wheat. Regardless of its origin, it’s a delicious grain with nutty notes that will add variety and nutrition to your diet.

I recommend that you soak all of your grains before use, but farro in particular must be soaked.  Grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor and anti-nutritent that binds with minerals, thus preventing proper absorption of minerals and disrupting digestion. In short, soaking grains initiates the sprouting process which neutralizes phytic acid, thus making them more digestible and their nutrients more readily available to the body.  It is best to soak grains in warm water with an acid medium such as lemon juice, yogurt, or raw apple cider vinegar for at least 8 hours. I know that soaking can be a bit intimidating, but don’t overthink it! It only takes a tiny bit of planning and it couldn’t be easier. And, not to worry, if last minute plans come up and you can’t cook your soaked grains right away, just store them in the fridge for the following day.

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ingredients:

1 cup farro, soaked (this is often a bit confusing - start with 1 cup dry and use it all once soaked, it will nearly double in volume) 2 tablespoons olive oil ¼ pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick ½ pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick 1 bunch asparagus, sliced on the bias into 1 inch pieces 1 shallot, minced ½ cup white wine 6 cups mushroom stock, see recipe below ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated salt and pepper

directions:

In a large sauce pot heat mushroom stock over low heat.

Heat a separate pot, add oil and cook mushrooms in batches over high heat until all are cooked and golden. Set mushrooms aside. In the same pot, add shallot and a pinch of salt and sweat until translucent. Add farro and wine, and stir until absorbed. The rest of the cooking is a bit time consuming, but effortless. Add stock in 1 cup increments and stir occasionally until absorbed. Continue until the farro is al dente, if you happen to run out of stock before the farro is fully cooked, you can just use water. Farro is a slightly chewy grain so there will still be a little bite when it is ready.

In the meantime, blanch and shock the asparagus. To avoid having to clean another pot, and to add flavor to the asparagus, blanch it in the mushroom stock. Add asparagus to the stock for about 1 minute or until al dente. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool immediately in an ice bath or under running cold water. Set Aside.

When the farro is ready, remove from heat, add parmesan cheese, mushrooms and asparagus. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed and serve.

mushroom stock

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Making this stock adds a lot of flavor to the dish. As the farro cooks, the stock is absorbed and reduced which greatly enhances the deep mushroom flavors in the farro. You could also substitute chicken stock or a store bought stock of your choice but remember, you may need to adjust your seasonings depending on how salty the stock is. 

2 teaspoons olive oil 1 onion ½ pound mushrooms 1.5 oz dried shiitake mushrooms 6 cloves garlic 3 carrots 1 tablespoon pepercorns 8 cups water

Wash all vegetables. When washing the mushrooms go ahead and use water. (I know this is taboo at times but they are going straight into a pot of water so not to worry!) Roughly chop the mushrooms (throw the stems in too), carrots and dice the onion. Heat oil and sweat onion until translucent, add mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Stain and reserve liquid.