Dec 25

IMG_2644During the last two weeks my life has been on hold, or so it has seemed with the entire contents of my kitchen carefully boxed up, and then not so carefully piled into our new house. For some people, getting settled into a new home means promptly making your bed with fresh sheets and ensuring the bathroom is stocked with toilet paper. While others like myself cannot sleep soundly until the heart of the home, namely the kitchen, is completely unpacked and functional.


If being cornered on all sides by boxes weren’t bad enough, I faced the harsh reality that it would take an additional week for an internet connection to be installed. As my husband and I were beginning to feel as if we couldn’t be more disjointed or cut off from the world as we know it, a winter blizzard descended upon the DC area, leaving seventeen inches of snow blanketing our driveway and surrounding roads.  Completely snowed in, we had no choice but to try and make things a bit more livable in our new home.


After far too many nights of take-out, I set out to return our lives to a more familiar routine with a home cooked meal. Feeling inspired by the new snowfall, and a longing for the comforts of home, I decided to make a beloved Italian dish that my family annually savors on Christmas Eve. Using farro, and ancient Mediterranean whole grain, in place of the traditional Arborio rice used for risotto, elevates this dish to more flavorful and healthful levels.

Farro adds both an intense nuttyness that compliments the roasted mushrooms, and a wonderful toothsome quality imparted by the chewyness of the grain. In place of cream, the risotto is enriched at the very end with a spoonful of rich marscapone which adds greater depth to the finished dish. A final drizzle of pungent white truffle oil over top hints at the layers of earthyness that lay beneath.

While still a labor love, that needs continual ladles of hot stock and repetitive stirring, a long winter’s afternoon is the perfect time to engage in the pleasures of making and savoring risotto.



Olive oil

2 C Farro

2 quarts Mushroom, Chicken or Vegetable Stock

2 Shallots, peeled and finely minced

1 C champagne or dry white wine

3 lbs assorted mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced into large pieces

IMG_2773mushroom3403/4 C finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp marscapone cheese

I bunch of parsley, finely chopped

white truffle oil

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Toss the mushrooms in olive oil just to coat, spread evenly between the two sheet pans, then roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in pot over medium heat.

Heat a separate medium size pot over medium-low heat and gently cook the shallots in olive oil until they are opaque but not brown. Add the farro and stir to coat the grains in the oil. Cook for about two minutes so that the farro is lightly toasted, then add the champagne and continue to stir until the liquid is almost evaporated. The risotto should not be boiling rapidly, but rather simmering so that it takes a few minutes for the farro to absorb each addition of liquid. Using a ladle, add some of the hot stock to the farro so that the grains are just covered. Stir the mixture gently until most of the liquid is evaporated. Continue this process until the grains are tender, but still slightly chewy. It will probably take between 4-5 additions of stock to get to this point. Add the Parmigiano, marscapone and salt and pepper to taste then fold in the roasted mushrooms and some chopped parsley. Portion the risotto into individual bowls then garnish each with a drizzle of white truffle oil and large Parmigiano shavings.IMG_2783mushroom560

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