Farrotto is like risotto, only it takes a quarter of the time to cook. Which is ideal when you want all the creamy comforting of the classic Italian dinner yet have none of the time or inclination to babysit it. Farro is an ancient grain that is so mystical and desirable it’s sold in such far-flung climes as my local Tesco and Asda. Feted by cookie-cutter-thin and beautiful wellness bloggers the world over, I picked it up not for its enthusiastic magical properties, but because it said ‘quick cook’ on the packet, and those are two little words to seduce me by. In a culinary manner, of course. This recipe is delicious hot, straight from the pan, but also cold the next morning, when the farro has softened even more and the flavours have developed. So make a batch of it and eat it for days – you won’t regret it.
First peel and finely slice your onion and toss it into a wide, nonstick shallow pan. Peel the garlic, quarter it lengthways and add that too. Finely slice the celery and add to the mix, then drizzle over the oil or dollop in the butter. Bring the pan to medium-low heat and stir intermittently for a couple of minutes to start to soften the onion and veg.
Finely slice your courgette – I use a mandolin for mine, as it’s quick and efficient, as well as cheaper to buy and more reliable than a decent knife. Add to the pan and stir briefly.
Tip in the farro and stir. Leave for a minute, then pour over the wine or cider. Wait a minute for it to absorb, then add two-thirds of the stock and the cream cheese, and stir well. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cook the farro for 10–12 minutes until soft and swollen, adding the remaining stock as required. Grate over the hard cheese and finish with plenty of black pepper to serve.
© Jack Monroe, 2020