Miso, kale and shiitake mushroom farrotto

Risotto is a bit of a joke in our house because it was one of the first things I tried to teach my husband how to cook.  They are usually a very calming dish to make as they require almost constant rhythmic stirring as you slowly add the liquid. I showed my husband how to gently stir the rice then left him for the last few minutes of the cooking to do some other things.  When I returned, his “gentle stirring” had turned the risotto to an unrecognisable mush.  His defence was that I had told him to keep the rice moving and not that the grains should roughly retain their shape. To be fair, my husband is usually a very good cook but we still laugh about his mashed risotto whenever I give unclear cooking instructions, and he remains nervous about stirring risotto.  Therefore, we experimented with baked risotto.  These do not have a characteristic creaminess of a risotto cooked on the stove top but take a lot less looking after when you are busy.  This version has come quite a long way from a traditional risotto and turned more into a bake, with farro replacing the risotto rice because I love its nutty flavour.  I have also moved away from the traditionally Italian flavours and introduced some Japanese ingredients, inspired by the similarity between stick risotto and sushi rice.

Miso, kale and shiitake mushroom farrotto

Cooking time: 15 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking

Dietary info: vegan

Serves: 2-3

  • 50-100g quick cook farro, depending on how substantial you want the dish to be, rinsed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 150g shiitake mushrooms, cut into ½ or 1/4s
  • 150g kale
  • 200ml water
  • 1 heaped tbsp miso paste
  • 15g vegan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan.
  2. Put the onion in a frying pan with a splash of water to stop it sticking and cook over a low heat until it starts to soften then stir in the farro.
  3. Steam the mushrooms and kale for 5-7 minutes until they are just starting to soften too.
  4. Mix the farro and onion together with the kale and mushrooms in an ovenproof dish and pour over the miso water, trying to push the farro down into the liquid as much as possible.
  5. Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring half way through to allow the farro to cook more evenly.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese over the farro bake and return to the oven at a lower temperature (150C) for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with the steamed vegetables and miso and wasabi sauce below.

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • If you want to cook this all on the night then the vegetables can be prepared ahead of time and kept in bags in the fridge, the miso water can be mixed and kept in the fridge and the farro can be measured out. 
  • You can also prepare the dish up to step 4 (putting all the ingredients in the ovenproof dish) and keep that covered in the fridge ready to take and put in the oven.
  • You can even prepare the whole meal ahead of time and keep the finished farrotto in the oven proof dish covered in the fridge for a few days then just heat it up for 10 minutes in the oven on the night.
  • The miso wasabi dressing below can be made and kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Some tasty little extras…

The earthy warming flavours of the kale, mushrooms and farro and soft sticky texture of the bake pair well with these crunch steamed vegetables drizzled in zingy miso wasabi dressing.

Steamed vegetables with miso wasabi dressing

Cooking time: 5 minutes preparation, 5 minutes cooking

Dietary info: vegan

Serves: 2 as a side dish

  • 150g beansprouts
  • 2 pak choi, leaves separated
  • 50ml water (optional)
  • 2 heaped tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp wasabi paste or powder
  • 50ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Mix the miso and wasabi together with 50ml water and the lemon juice to a smooth sauce.  This is most easily done by adding the liquid to the paste gradually.
  2. Steam the beansprouts and pak choi for 3-5 minutes until just starting to soften but retaining some crunch.  Alternatively, cook them in a frying pan over a medium heat with the other 50ml water, covered for the fist 2-3 minutes then uncovered for the next 2-3 minutes to until the vegetables are just softening but still crispy and the water has evaporated.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with half of the dressing and serve as an accompaniment to the farrotto, with the remain dressing to drizzle over the farrotto.
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