Recipe | Pumpkin farrotto with crispy shredded kale & sage

Recipe and words extracted from Motherfood: The Science, Art and Practice of Nourishing Maternal Foodways by Vanessa A. Clarkson

Farrotto is a traditional Tuscan risotto made with farro rather than rice. Although farro is sometimes used as a general term for spelt, emmer and einkorn, each are actually different species of wheat – farro grande (spelt), farro medio (emmer) and farro piccolo (einkorn).

Farro without any descriptor of size (big, medium, small) usually refers to medio/medium – emmer wheat. The word emmer is derived from ‘Em ha’Hitah’, which in Hebrew means ‘mother wheat’, stemming from its use since the very advent of farming. Emmer has a malty flavour that is so delicious with the pumpkin, nutmeg and sage, that it is worth tracking some down. If you don’t have emmer, then pearl barley would be a good substitute, or at a push, arborio rice would also be fine and will cook far quicker.

1 hour 10 minutes
Serves 4


extra-virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

300 g (1 cup) pearled farro, unwashed 1 whole nutmeg

125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine (see note)

400 g (2 cups) pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cubed 1¼ litres (5 cups) stock, kept warm in a separate saucepan

2 large handfuls of Tuscan kale (cavolo nero)

a handful of sage leaves, large ones halved lengthways down the stem


Warm a generous splash of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the farro and a good grating of nutmeg, then stir and toast, adding extra oil if needed so that every grain is coated.

When the farro smells nutty, after about 2 minutes, add the wine and let it simmer until it has all absorbed. Add the pumpkin and enough stock to bathe the

ingredients. Simmer uncovered. As the stock reduces, top up with more until the pumpkin is soft, the farro cooked through and the stock has been used up, about 1 hour. By this time, if the pumpkin hasn’t relaxed and softened to create a thick sauce, help it along and mash it into the farrotto with the back of a spatula or a fork.

When the farrotto is nearly ready, shred the kale by folding each leaf in half and then slicing into long thin strips. Remove and compost the tough stems. Warm a generous splash of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the kale and sage and fry until crispy, about 5 minutes. Top the farrotto with the shredded leaves.

NOTE : When cooking with alcohol, the amount the alcohol will reduce by depends on how long the dish is cooked for. A long-simmered dish like this farrotto will retain around 5 per cent of the alcohol initially added – meaning that a serving will contain a negligible amount (even though the wine adds significantly to its flavour). In dishes that are cooked briefly, the alcohol remaining can range from 10-50 per cent. If you would prefer not to use wine or have none to hand, simply make up the difference with extra stock.

More recipes by Vanessa A. Clarkson:

Lemony Broccoli, Pea and Ginger Brown Rich with Toasted Cashews and Sticky Sultanas

Roast Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes and Sprouting Broccoli with Caper Pesto

Recipe extracted from Motherfood by Vanessa A. Clarkson

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