purple sprouting broccoli with leek and shallot farrotto

this is my final recipe for british food fortnight. again most of the ingredients are courtesy of kentish farmers, via foodari, but the recipe comes from irish chef dennis cotter. it is another step along my journey of using farro aka barley aka spelt, in place of rice in my risottos.

this dish is the most complex version i’ve tried, and not because it’s difficult to make. with most risotto-style dishes everything comes together and it’s a real one-pan dish. this has two distinct elements – the farrotto itself has gentle comforting flavours from slow-cooked leeks and shallots and is finished off with a decadent amount of butter and cheese; the broccoli is stir fried, again with shallots but this time with some red chilli to pep things up.

the resulting dish has contrasting flavours and textures but works beautifully. it also looks surprisingly good – having seen and been intrigued by the recipe i was dreading how it would look and what my camera would have to deal with!

i’ve really enjoyed cooking and eating a range of british food over the past few weeks but, to be honest, its not that different from what i normally have. as i mentioned at the start of british food fortnight, choosing seasonal and local ingredients is important and thanks to schemes such as foodari, even city foodies like me don’t have to work too hard to get this kind of food into the kitchen and ready for cooking. which is great news as my vegetable-growing efforts were particularly ineffective this year.

denis cotter’s purple sprouting broccoli with leek and shallot farrotto (serves 4)

for the farrotto

1.5 litres vegetable stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

250g leeks, washed and thinly sliced

250g shallots, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage leaves

200g farro

100ml white wine

100g butter

85g hard sheep's cheese, freshly grated (i used parmesan)

for the purple sprouting broccoli

3 tablespoons olive oil

500g purple sprouting broccoli

1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 fresh hot red chilli, halved and sliced, seeds included

4 fresh tomatoes, halved and sliced

3-4 tablespoons hot vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the farrotto, bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan then turn down the heat and keep at a low simmer. in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the leeks, shallots and garlic for five minutes over a medium heat. add the herb leaves and the farro, and cook again for five minutes, stirring occasionally, to toast the grains. add the wine, lower the heat and simmer for approximately five minutes until it has been absorbed. pour in a ladle or two of hot stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has been absorbed. continue adding stock for about 40-50 minutes or until the grains are soft and chewy. when the farrotto is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed, stir in the butter, cheese and some salt and pepper.

for the sprouting broccoli, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan and cook the sprouting broccoli, red onion and chilli for two minutes over a medium heat. add the tomatoes and the remaining olive oil, and cook for two minutes. then add a few tablespoons of stock and some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for one minute.

serve the sprouting broccoli with the farrotto, pouring the juices from the pan over each portion.