Pumpkin Farro Risotto

This funny looking fall experiment turned out to be a tasty twist on classic risotto. The pumpkin, parmesan and goat cheese resulted in creamy comfort. Risotto often gets a bad rep for taking a long time to cook, and requiring a lot of patience. I found the experience quite pleasant. I got on the phone with Mama and just chatted and stirred, and by the end of the conversation dinner was ready. Also, farro works beautifully as a replacement for arborio rice in risotto recipes. It feels a bit more exotic, and has more health benefits. If, however, you are attached to arborio rice, or can’t find farro, go ahead and use arborio instead. My only complaint about this dish is that the original recipe said this would make six servings. Maybe six small children? Brent, Marta and I were scrapping the pot for more.

Ingredients:
4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth, plus extra for moistening, as needed
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek (white and pale green part), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups farro
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 6 ounces)

Directions:

Whisk together the broth and the pumpkin in a heavy medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin broth warm.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the thyme. Add the farro and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking the farro, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the farro is tender but still firm to the bite, and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes, adding additional warm broth by 1/4 cupfuls if risotto is dry. Mix in the Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Add more salt to taste.

Divide the risotto among shallow bowls. Sprinkle each with goat cheese and remaining parsley and serve.

Adapted from Giada Laurentiis

Dark Chocolate Linguine

Lately Saturday mornings have consisted of sweating at Rudy’s yoga class at Santa Monica Power Yoga, followed by sampling local foods at various farmer’s markets. Quality farmer’s market ingredients inspired this tasty dessert. I discovered Pappardelle’s pasta a few weeks ago at the original Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, and yesterday I came across spicy cinnamon chocolate at Chocovivo‘s stand in Playa Vista. What I love most about market shopping is meeting passionate small business owners who have devoted their lives to preparing natural, high quality products. Dark chocolate linguine, ice-cream and stone ground cocoa was a fun way to finish off a Saturday night meal.

Ingredients:
8 ounces dark chocolate linguine
A few scoops of ice cream
Chocolate bar or chocolate chips for melting
2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water. Allow to cool.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add milk to chocolate and stir.
3. Divide linguini into 3-4 bowls. Top with ice-cream and melted chocolate.