baked farro with summer vegetables

If things seem a little quiet around here this summer, do know that it’s less because I’m out having a hot vax summer and more because I’m in my own personal quarantine-for-a-good-cause: finishing up my third cookbook, which …

If things seem a little quiet around here this summer, do know that it’s less because I’m out having a hot vax summer and more because I’m in my own personal quarantine-for-a-good-cause: finishing up my third cookbook, which will be out next fall. Although I’m somewhat (“somewhat”) panicked by the vanishing weeks between now and the deadline, I am so excited about this book and I can’t wait to tell you more about it, you know, should I survive the photoshoot and edits. (If you’ve spent some time on this site, you know what a forbidding task the copyeditor has ahead.)

what you'll need

But I can’t let another week go by without telling you about the most delicious, pinnacle-of-summer baked grain dish that has ever existed in my kitchen. The origin of this recipe is pasta bake that a favorite* reader named Marcia sent me several years ago from a Williams-Sonoma catalogue. It’s a summer staple for her and she thinks it’s fantastic because all of the ingredients are easy for her to get fresh and local. If you have a CSA or garden or farmers market access right now, boy, would they like to sell some corn, tomatoes, and zucchini! The first time I made it I used penne, as the recipe recommends and it was spectacularly delicious. So why do I use farro instead here? Because the sauce is so good, it doesn’t want to share the spotlight with big pieces of pasta. Farro, small, nutty and slightly chewy, is a fantastic supporting cast member, while adding a heft that makes it clearly dinner-y.

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parmesan oven risotto

I’ve always struggled with risotto, the classic Northern Italian rice dish that gets creamy from slow cooking in broth. Even when I’ve accepted the work involved — most recipes tell you to separately have a pot of warm broth …

I’ve always struggled with risotto, the classic Northern Italian rice dish that gets creamy from slow cooking in broth. Even when I’ve accepted the work involved — most recipes tell you to separately have a pot of warm broth and to ladle it in, stirring, for the better part of an hour — the flavor, which often tastes odd to me when I used non-homemade broth, or the texture, which seems perfect for about 5 minutes and then often too gloppy, throws me. And yet it’s one of the coziest things to make in the winter, and can even be used to distract children who believe that pasta is the only acceptable carb. The last year, as I’ve spent much time looking around my kitchen for simpler approaches to our favorite foods as we’ve been home for almost all of our meals [see: these tacos, this bolognese, this roast chicken, these cookies, this galette], I’ve realized that almost everything I believed was mandatory about risotto is not, and you can make this golden, cozy, rich bowl ignoring every “rule.” Lucky us.

what you'll needshort-grain riceonion and garlicadd the rice

Without further ado, here are four moderately controversial opinions about risotto:
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