|Farro & Sweet Potato Risotto|
ah farro, the darling of the Nashville culinary scene.
Nope, your ears are clean! In the last few years, this ancient Italian strain of wheat has graced the menus of Nashville's hottest restaurants, and in multiple forms. I've enjoyed farro pasta, cold farro salads, delicate appetizers sprinkled with farro, and most commonly, farro risotto.
Why this sudden farro spotlight? I'm not totally sure, but I imagine that somebody gave it a whirl and realized that its chewy, hearty texture and nutty flavor stand up to all kindsa cooking technique and pair beautifully with an array of ingredients. And then that guy/human told a guy, and he told a guy etc. That's how it seems to go down here. But unlike pork belly or fried chicken or mac n'cheese, this is an obsession I can get down with! (note, none of the aforementioned are bad foods in moderation, but wouldn't claim them healthy).
When farro is properly prepared, it's a wonderful source of fiber, magnesium, B vitamins and a host of other nutrients. What is proper preparation? Namely, soaking the grain overnight with an acid breaks down phytic acid, which binds to vitamins and minerals, preventing their absorption. Not only does this process allow you to glean more of the good stuff, it makes the grains much more digestible. And, BONUS, it cuts down on the cooking time.
Even with the help from soaking, making this farro risotto is a labor of love, but I promise it is worth the carpel tunnel (j.k. sort of ). Once it's soaked, the dish is complete within an hour, but you really gotta love on it the entire time to achieve a creamy consistency. This is an ideal recipe for a chilly weekend night, and you won't believe how complex and delicious your end product is. Traditional risotto uses white wine, but I love how apple cider adds a layer of spice along with sweetness. Sweet potatoes, pecans and sage are as natural a flavor team as you'll find and they are oh so at-home in this dish.
I'm proud to say I drank the farro cool-aid, and this will continue to be a staple on our menu for the rest of the winter!
Some other ways to enjoy this dish ||for breakfast with a poached or lightly fried egg, over arugula drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, mixed with chickpeas, sausage or pulled chicken, as a bed for grilled salmon
**All photography in this post is by the talented Southern Fatty. Click to check out more of his work!