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Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

Sweet and savory makes for beautifully balanced flavors and this farro risotto showcases my favorite winter vegetables (pear and persimmon) with bright apple, nutty farro, creamy imported Parmeson, and that unmistakable licorice flavor of fennel.  When sauteed, the natural sugars in these fruits and vegetables caramelize, bringing the most delicious flavors to the dish.

I use farro in this risotto, instead of traditional rice, because I enjoy the hearty, nutty flavors farro brings to the dish.  This ancient grain is also a high source of plant based protein (meaning you can make this a meatless meal) and a great source of fiber (about 6 grams per serving!).

Farro Risotto with Caramelized Apples and Fennel

Makes 6 side dish servings or 4 main

Caramelized Apples and Fennel

Ingredients:

1 small persimmon

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped

1/2 Bartlet Pear

1/2 Asian Pear

1 T. organic olive oil

1 T. grass-fed butter

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup white wine

Directions:

This can be done concurrently with the risotto. In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter with the olive oil and add the apples and fennel. Salt and stir.

Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. At first the mix will release liquid then they will start to cook down — after about 10 minutes, keep an eye on them so they don’t get too brown. When they are tender and brown, deglaze the pan with the wine scraping up any brown bits.

Farro Risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup farro (rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained)

3 cups chicken broth

2 small shallot, chopped or 1 medium white onion

1 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. hemp seed

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup pine nuts, whole or could also use walnuts or pecans (pieces)

1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

1 T. organic olive oil

1 T. grass-fed butter

Directions:

In a pot, add 1 cup of Farro and 3 cups of chicken stock, bring to boil, then turn temperature to low cover with lid and cook until liquid is absorbed. When farrow is al dente, remove from eat and drain off any excess liquid. Reserve.

In a medium saute pan, add a tbs of olive oil and shallot (or onion) continue cooking until caramelized while continuously deglazing with white wine. When fennel and onion are soft and brown, add persimmons and pears, continue caramelizing and deglazing with white wine, season with salt to taste. When fennel, shallot, persimmon, and pears are evenly tender add in cooked risotto. Add one cup of chicken stock, heat through, add parmesan and continuously stir until mixture starts to thicken. Take off heat and add chopped parsley, nuts, and finish with lemon juice. Garnish with shaved parmesan or more chopped parsley.

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