I love fall. The colors that change daily. The cool-in-the-morning, warm-in-the-afternoon weather. The end-of-season farmer’s market fare. And the excuse to start making those comforting, warming one-pot meals.
I’m a huge fan of homemade risotto, especially after mastering a Deborah Madison recipe that I turned into a Parsley, Pea, and Green Tea Risotto. But we’ve been eating lots of whole grains at my house and Arborio rice is not on the menu. So I was thrilled when a recent Cook’s Illustrated issue published method for making risotto with everybody’s favorite ancient grain, farro. Works like a charm and the cooking style is similar to the Arborio rice risotto method.
My take on the Cook’s Illustrated farro risotto includes roasted carrots slathered with a paste made of garlic, sherry vinegar, and kukicha tea. Kukicha is a Japanese green tea made from tea leaves and tea leaf stems. It has toasty, nut-like flavor that’s fun to pair with the sweetness of roasted carrots. Inspired by a recipe from Jean-Georges (the genius behind one of my favorite NYC restaurants, ABC Kitchen), the carrots are topped with lemon halves while roasting so they get a tangy citrus infusion.
Now you can have your risotto and eat your whole grains too!
Happy cooking and sipping!
Tea Roasted Carrot & Farro Risotto
By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie. Inspired by several recipes, including Cook’s Illustrated’s Farro Risotto, Deborah Madison’s Parsley and Pea Risotto, and Jean-Georges’ Cumin and Citrus Roasted Carrots.
Makes about 6 servings
For the carrots:
1 pound carrots, peeled
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons loose leaf kukicha green tea (I used Adagio’s Kukicha)
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons, halved
Fresh ground pepper to taste
For the risotto:
1 cup water
1 bunch curly parsley, a handful of leaves reserved for garnish
4½ cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, white parts quartered and sliced and green parts set aside for the broth
1½ cups quick-cooking farro
½ cup sherry
4 oz. crème fraiche, plus more for garnish
For the carrots:
1. Cover carrots with cold water by about 2 inches and bring to a boil. Boil until carrots are easily pierced with a knife but still slightly firm, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and rinse carrots with cold water to stop the cooking.
2. Meanwhile, grind garlic in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder with tea and salt until you get a paste-like mixture. Stir in vinegar.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer parboiled carrots to a large baking dish. Add garlic-tea paste and toss to coat carrots. Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with a few pinches of fresh ground pepper. Make sure carrots are in an even layer and set lemon halves on top of carrots, cut side down. Roast for about 25 minutes until carrots are golden brown and fork tender.
4. Let carrots cool then transfer to a cutting board and slice. Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into the roasting pan with the seasoning that was left behind. Stir sliced carrots back into the roasting pan and stir to coat with lemon juice and seasoning. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to stir into risotto.
For the risotto:
1. In a large, wide pot, bring water to a boil. Add parsley and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree into a sauce. Set aside.
2. In a separate saucepan, bring broth and reserved green parts of the leeks to a simmer. Keep broth at a low simmer as you continue with the recipe; you want the broth to be hot as you add it to the risotto during cooking.
3. In the same pot you simmered the parsley, melt butter over medium heat. Add white parts of the leeks and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add farro and cook for 1 more minute, stirring.
4. Add sherry to farro and simmer, without stirring, until sherry is absorbed. Give the farro a stir, add ½ cup broth, and simmer, without stirring, until broth is absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup broth at a time, letting each addition absorb into the farro before stirring and adding more. Continue until broth is gone. (Avoid adding the green leek parts to the farro, they’re just meant to add flavor to the broth.)
5. Once all of the broth is absorbed into the farro, stir in the tea-roasted carrots (be sure and get any remaining seasoning in the roasting pan) and the reserved parsley sauce. Cook for a few more minutes until everything is warmed through.
6. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. Serve immediately with an extra dash of crème fraiche and chopped parsley as garnish.