I’m a girl who loves classics. My black Ray-Bans Wayfarers? Always and forever more. My Jadeite Jane Ray dessert plates? I only wish I had a whole set. My vintage Mercedes Diesel? I’ll drive it ’til it quits. And much like those, I have classics in the kitchen like this Pancetta Pea Asparagus Farro Risotto. It’s safe to say farro risotto is my bestie when it comes to spring recipes.
I don’t know what it is about peas and asparagus, but, until I’ve had them, it just doesn’t feel like Spring. But even here in LA, Spring can be finicky — it’s heat wave temperatures one day and then cloudy and blustery the next. So, sometimes, Spring to me is more along the lines of a good glass of wine and this smoky, sweet Pancetta Pea Asparagus Farro Risotto than a basket of strawberries, know what I’m saying? As in sometimes I want the comfort of a slow(ish) cooked grain with the freshness of all those spring veggies.
plus more for garnish
halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons
from about 3 pounds in-shell
cut into 1/2-inch pieces
about 1/2 ounce
torn by hand
halved for garnish
Warm broth in a medium saucepan over low heat until ready to use. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve. Return pot to stove, add the leeks, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more.
Add the farro and stir to coat. Add white wine or vermouth until alcohol smell is cooked off. Stir in 3 cups of the broth or water and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes, until rice is tender and creamy but the center of each farro grain is tender to the bite (the mixture should be soupier than regular risotto), about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and peas and cook until bright green, about 5 minutes more.
Turn off the heat, stir in the butter and the Parmesan, cover and rest a few minutes before serving. Just before serving, add the additional broth (if desired) then stir in half of the herbs. Garnish with reserved pancetta, remaining herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and, if desired, a squeeze of lemon juice.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp