Archive for Summer Rice, Grains and Beans

Farro Risotto With Tomatoes

Since our first trip to Italy I have been a big fan of farro. Farro is made from Emmer Wheat, not spelt. The first time I had it was in a ribollita at La Bottega, a little restaurant in Volpaia, a small town in Chianti. I had read that the mother of the family who own the restaurant, make the best ribollita (a thick soup), so of course we had to go there! It was great! A short time later, at Ristorante da Dalfina, a short drive from Florence, we ordered a tomato risotto made with farro. It was delicious. I simply had to buy farro to bring home! I found it!  Another discovery made from having leftover risotto is to make a soup with some borlotti beans, carrots, onions & celery and some herbs.  Tummy warming on a cool day.

Makes 3 – 4 First Course/Side Dish Servings

1 cup farro perlato (semi-pearled)**
1 Tbsp. each EVO & unsalted butter
1 ½ cups chicken stock** or tinned low/no salt chicken broth, or more, especially if using regular farro**
½ tsp. salt
2 cups tinned Italian plum tomatoes, drained & pureed in a food mill (or you can simply mash up with your hands). Don’t use a food processor,  pureed seeds makes the tomatoes bitter.
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. pancetta, cut into fine dice
¼ cup dry white wine
2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For Finishing the Risotto:

2 – 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Heat the stock in a pot until hot. Cover with a lid & keep warm on low heat. Heat the EVO & butter in a medium sized pot & add the pancetta; sauté until golden; add the onion & sauté until translucent, then add the garlic & sauté for a minute or so. Add the farro & stir until coated & lightly toasted; approximately 2 minutes. Add the wine & cook until it evaporates. Ladle in ½ cup stock at a time, stirring & adding more stock as it is absorbed into the farro. Repeat until all stock is used up. Add the pureed tomatoes & continue to cook until the farro is al dente 12 – 15 minutes, adding more stock if necessary until it is ready; add the basil & season to taste with more salt if required & freshly ground black pepper. Add the cheese & butter, stirring until incorporated. Serve immediately.

**A note about Farro Perlato. I have, so far, been unable to find pearled farro in Vancouver, so I buy it in Italy & in London at an Italian Deli. You can easily find the regular farro, but for making risotto using regular farro there are two schools of thought on the preparation method.  One is to pre-soak & one is not.  Both methods follow & you can decide which one would work for you.

Soak the farro in cold water to cover for 8 – 12 hours, drain & continue with the recipe.

OR: another method if you  is to sauté the onion & garlic as above, add the unsoaked farro, stirring for a minute to coat with oil & butter, add the wine, cook until reduced, stirring constantly, then add 1 ½ cup hot broth & ½ tsp salt, stir to combine; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover & simmer about 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed into the farro. Add the pureed tomatoes & ¼ cup hot broth, boil over medium heat, uncovered, until tender adding more broth ¼ cup at a time, stirring occasionally, until farro is al dente, approximately 25 minutes, the farro should not be dry. Season farro to taste with salt & pepper to taste, stir in the cheese & butter until creamy.

 To make your own stock, click Making Stock.

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Curried Rice Salad

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, click here.

If you are in the mood for the taste of curry, this salad is for you!  We barbecued some chicken wings to have with it…delicious!  And it would be great to take to a barbecue! You can add cooked barbecued chicken or Chinese barbecued pork to make it into a main course salad too.

Makes Approximately 4 – 6 Servings

For the Salad:

DSC_7988 nx23 cups cooked Basmati rice, cooled to room temperature
½ cup to 2/3 cup peas, either cooked fresh or frozen & run under hot water
4 green onions, sliced thin
½ large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
½ cup raisins
½ to 2/3 cup toasted cashews or toasted slivered almonds**
(opt.) ½ cup grated carrots
Curry dressing (below)

Curry Dressing:

½ cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
¾ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. curry powder

Make the Dressing:

 Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid & shake well; allow to stand for a couple of hours.

Make the Salad:

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl; toss with the dressing.  Chill for a few hours.  Remove from the fridge, stir gently but well & allow to stand for an hour or so before serving.

**If you would like to see how to toast the nuts, click here.

Phyllis Signature

Baked Polenta With Onions And Bacon

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Joe likes it!  That’s what the note at the top of the recipe says!

The polenta is prepared in the microwave then finished in the oven. I think it would be excellent with chicken, perhaps Joe’s Tuscan Chicken or chicken with barbecue sauce & a nice salad.

Makes 2 Servings

3 slices of lean bacon, chopped crosswise into ½” pieces
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1 cup water
¾ cup chicken broth
¼ tsp. crumbled dried sage or ¾ tsp. chopped fresh sage
½ cup polenta
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or other hard grating cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a 2 – 3 quart microwaveable casserole with a lid, microwave the bacon, uncovered, on high, stirring after each minute, for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, or until it is almost crisp. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of the fat from the casserole & stir in the onions. Microwave the mixture, uncovered, on high, stirring every 2 minutes, for 8 minutes, or until the onions are softened but not browned; transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.

To the casserole add the water, broth & sage; whisk in the cornmeal, a little at a time, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Microwave the mixture, covered, on high, whisking after 3 minutes, for a total of 5 minutes, or until it is thickened & the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the butter, 2 Tbsp. of the cheese, half the onion mixture, salt & pepper to taste; divide the mixture between two gratin dishes or spread into a 3 cup gratin dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Top the polenta with the remaining onion mixture, spreading the mixture evenly, sprinkle it with the remaining 2 Tbsp. cheese & bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.

Milanese Rice

I like to make this rice, a baked “risotto” to accompany Osso Bucco. It’s not the usual cooked on top of the stove, stirring almost constantly, so it does make things a little easier for the cook. However, feel free to change it up & do it the traditional way! I love the saffron in the rice. When buying saffron, make sure you buy the “threads” and not powdered. Spain’s saffron is excellent & if you can get it so is the saffron from San Gimignano in Italy. I like to use Parmigiano but Grana Padano will also be very good.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. each EVO & unsalted butter
1 cup risotto rice**
2 cups chicken stock**or tinned low/no salt chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/16 to 1/8 tsp. saffron threads
½ bay leaf
½ clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

To Finish The Rice: add 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter & 2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Add the saffron to the wine & set aside. Bring the chicken broth & keep warm. In an ovenproof pot, melt the butter with the EVO over medium to medium-low heat until hot. Add the minced onion & sauté until transparent, approximately 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic & stir for a minute, then add the rice & stir until it is coated with the butter & oil and the very tips of the rice grains begin to look transparent. Add the wine, stirring for a moment, followed by the broth, bay leaf, salt & pepper. Fit a piece of tin foil over the pot & top with the lid. Place in the oven and cook without looking, for 20 minutes; check & if the rice is still slightly creamy, it will be done. If not, replace foil & lid and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano.

**If you would like to read about rice for risotto, please go to Phyllis’ Kitchen/Cooking Tips.

**If you would like to make your own homemade stock, please to go Making Stock.

Creamy Polenta

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This version of polenta is basically one that requires very little stirring;  a good thing in my eyes!

4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup polenta (not quick-cooking)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

**If you like you can put a bit of fresh thyme in the polenta while it is cooking.


In a 3 quart heavy saucepan bring the water to a boil, add the salt. Whisk while adding the polenta in a thin stream. Cook over medium heat, whisking, 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; cover pan, then cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes, stirring with a long-handled spoon for 1 minute every 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter until incorporated.

**Polenta can be made 20 minutes ahead, kept, covered, at room temperature, if you allow it to stand longer it will solidify.




Phyllis Signature

Middle Eastern Couscous

This couscous would make an excellent accompaniment to Lamb.

Makes 6 Servings

1 ½ cups water
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups couscous
½ cup green peas, blanched if fresh or thawed if frozen
1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in hot water if dried out
¼ cup sliced unblanched almonds, toasted**
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. lemon rind

Bring water, butter, lemon juice & salt to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add couscous & peas; cover and let steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Toss with remaining ingredients & serve.

**If you would like to see how to toast almonds, please go to Toasting Nuts.

Yellow And Red Pepper Risotto

Not only is the colour of this risotto gorgeous, it is absolutely delicious.  With the addition of zucchini this is the perfect summer risotto, especially if your garden is overrun with them.  My favourite is Romanesco zucchini if you can find them try them!  I think I will go and make some risotto right now!

_DSC1948 resizeMakes 4 Servings

3 bell peppers (a combination of yellow & red), chopped
1 Tbsp. water
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup finely diced zucchini (1/4″)
4 cups low-salt chicken broth or homemade chicken stock**
6 shallots, minced (about 1 cup) OR an equal amount of finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup risotto rice (see below)
1/3 cup dry white wine
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 Tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet cook the peppers in water & 2 Tbsp. butter, partially covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 minutes (don’t be surprised if this takes longer, just add a bit more water & keep cooking until done). Puree peppers in a blender or food processor and strain through a coarse sieve into a small bowl; season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. (This can be done the day before).

In the cleaned skillet cook the zucchini in 1 Tbsp. butter over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes; season with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

In a saucepan heat the broth and keep at a simmer.

In a heavy 2-3 qt. saucepan cook the shallot or onion in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter over moderately low heat until very soft but not browned, about 5 minutes, adding the garlic about a minute before the shallots or onion are done. Stir in the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the edges of the rice become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed. Add about ½ cup of the broth; cook stirring constantly until it is absorbed. Continue adding the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until almost absorbed before adding more broth, until the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat & stir in the bell pepper puree, zucchini, Parmigiano Reggiano, 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley, salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve the risotto in 4 bowls, sprinkling with some of the remaining parsley. Pass the Parmigiano!

A note about rice for Risotto:  Arborio, Vialone Nano & Carnaroli are three rices used to make risotto.  However, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are considered the best choice.  The Vialone Nano has smaller grains, cooks faster & absorbs condiments better, but the Carnaroli is less likely to get overcooked.  Superfino, Semifino & Fino refers to the size & shape (length & narrowness) of the grains.

If you would like to make your own stock, click Making Stock.

Phyllis Signature




Saffron Rice With Chorizo

I think this makes a great side dish for barbecued chicken, fish or seafood but you could have it any time of the year!

Makes 6-8 Servings

¼ cup EVO
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups long-grain rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
¾ lb. smoked, fully cooked Spanish chorizo** (see below), cut diagonally into ¼” thick slices
4 cups low salt chicken broth or homemade chicken broth**(see below)
¼ tsp. (scant) saffron threads
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
(opt.) ½ cup thawed frozen peas

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 6 min. Add rice & stir until translucent, about 1 min. Add chorizo, broth & saffron; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until rice is tender, 15 – 20 min.  If using peas, add to the rice 5 minutes before it is cooked.  Season with salt & pepper; stir in parsley and serve.

**If you would like to see where to buy chorizo, please go to my Source list.

**If you want to make homemade stock, please go to Making Stock.