Farro Risotto & A Cookbook Review

A while back I went to a food blogger meet up coordinated by America’s Test Kitchen – you know them for their informative TV show and magazine, Cook’s Illustrated. It was great fun to meet up with other SF food bloggers as well as some food industry peeps. And it was also really fun that after the event ATK graciously offered to send me one of their cookbooks to try out and review!

So – what did I choose? Well, none other than Cooking for Two. You may be thinking to yourself “Wait a second… Emily, aren’t you single?” Why yes, I am, but all the better to have recipes so fit for 1 +a leftover meal. Genius!

I’ve made just a few things from it so far, but already I can’t wait to make more. One of the things that I love about to work America’s Test Kitchen does is that they explain the nitty-gritty of the hows and whys of what makes the recipes the best. I absolutely love having this kind of knowledge and so appreciate knowing why a little of this and a little of that is going to make a big difference. The book also provides info on what the best store brand products are, how to use the other half of whatever you may have used in just one recipe and other tips hat I found really helpful. As I flipped through, I marked a good chunk of the recipes, noting that the wide variety of American and international cuisines, a bit of breakfast and dessert, and even a section about how to make multiple meals for two from one big roast. I was particularly taken with the recipe for a farro risotto with tomatoes, arugula and lemon. It reminded me of a delicious pasta dish I’d had with the same flavors and I just happened to get farro in my Foodzie* box this month!

It ended up tasting great. Despite my stirring the farro didn’t exactly turn into a real creamy risotto, but the flavors were fantastic and after adding the cheese and butter it really did resemble risotto. I think the lemon is what I liked best and how it adds a burst of freshness to an otherwise dense, rich dish. I’d also hadn’t had farro like this before and it was such a nice mix up from a farro ‘pilaf’ – the same nuttiness and texture came through in a much creamier way.

So far so good on the cookbook. I made this risotto and the oven ‘fried’ fish that I served it with AND took inspiration from one of the recipes for this scrumptious meal a while back. The food has been delicious, the recipes are simple and well explained, and obviously it takes the guess-work out of cooking smaller portions, which can always be a challenge. I can’t wait to cook my way through some of these other stand out dishes:

  • Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • Chicken Pot Pies
  • Thai Red Curry with Shrimp Bell Pepper and Snap Peas
  • Beef Hand Pies
  • Coffee Cake Muffins
  • Cream and Current Scones
  • White Wine-Poached Pears
  • Key Lime Pie

Farro Risotto, from Cooking for Two

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 oz (abt 1 cup) cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used grape tomatoes halved)
  • 2 oz (abt 2 cups) arugula
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Abbreviated Directions:

Heat oil in medium pot, cook onions until softened, abt 5 min. Add garlic and thyme until fragrant, abt 30 seconds. Add farro until toasted, abt 2 min. Add vegetable broth and water to pot and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until farro is tender (directions said 20-25 min, but mine took closer to 40-45, I added a little more water towards the end so it didn’t try out as I cooked it longer). Add tomatoes and arugula until softened, about a minute or two. Finish by stirring in cheese, butter and lemon juice and zest.

NOTE: The more you stir it, especially at the end, the more creamy and risotto like it will be. Though don’t be fooled b/c it’s not really as creamy as risotto – a lot of that comes from the cheese and butter you add at the end


*Foodzie is a company based out of San Francisco that curates artisanal products into one of 3 themed boxes each month. For only $30 you get to try new foods from specialty producers that you normally wouldn’t try. I’ve been getting if for a few months now and it’s been really fun. Kinda like a CSA box without the produce!


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