Corn, Carrot, and Wheat Berry “Risotto” Recipe, from Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurant to Your Home, cookbook by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner
Authors Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner:
If you like risotto but dread standing over a pan and stirring for half an hour, this dish is the solution: It provides all the creaminess without the constant vigilance. Wheat berries, one of an increasing number of whole grains available in the market aisle, need to cook for an hour and a half, but they don’t require watching and can be made ahead. The carrots need only the occasional glance, and you can put the dish together in minutes when you’re ready to eat. There’s an intriguing array of collaborative flavors and textures here—the nutty, earthy wheat berries, which have more bite than rice, play against sweet corn and pureed carrots, all unified by lemon, parsley, butter, and cheese.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Featured Cook Sheri:
It’s probably ironic that despite a bizarre rice allergy, I really love risotto. Risotto is probably the one thing that I long for the most, so when I came across the recipe for Corn, Carrot, and Wheat Berry “Risotto,” I couldn’t resist. I cook a lot with grains and will sometimes cook them risotto-style, but the carrot aspect of this dish intrigued me. I’m always somewhat overloaded with carrots, and it seemed like a great way to use some of them up.
This isn’t the sort of dish you need to babysit with constant stirring. The wheat berries can be made ahead of time, and if you have a pressure cooker, they’ll cook even faster. The result is creamy and hearty, and we loved the subtle earthy sweetness that the carrots add to the dish.
I made the wheat berries and carrot puree ahead of time, and I had the corn and cheese prepped as well. When we were ready to eat, it was just a few minutes of work to finish the dish. This would be a lovely, sophisticated dish for company, made even better because it requires a minimal amount of time away from guests.
I served the risotto as a side, although it’s hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main dish. I made Turkey Meat Loaf with Magic Dust, from Family Table, as the main dish. It’s an updated take on the traditional meatloaf — tender, juicy, and bursting with smoke and spice thanks to the “Magic Dust,” a finely ground mix of spices that amps up the flavor of the ground turkey with every bite.
Corn, Carrot, and Wheat Berry “Risotto”
Featured Recipe From: Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the wheat berries
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups wheat berries
- 1 medium carrot, halved crosswise
- ½ large yellow onion, halved
- 1 celery stalk, halved
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
For the carrot puree
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 medium carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and thinly sliced
To finish the dish
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup corn kernels (from 1–2 ears)
- ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
To cook the wheat berries:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the wheat berries and toast, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add 6 cups water and the vegetables, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours, or until the wheat berries are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
Remove and discard the vegetables and drain the wheat berries, reserving the liquid. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt to taste. Set aside. (The wheat berries can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered; refrigerate the cooking water separately.)
To make the carrot puree:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the carrots and ½ cup water and cook, covered, until the carrots are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until about ¼ cup liquid remains.
Transfer the carrots and liquid to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
To finish the dish:
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add the corn and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wheat berries, stir to combine, and warm through.
Turn off the heat and stir in the carrot puree, Parmigiano, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and salt and pepper to taste. If the “risotto” seems dry, add some of the reserved wheat berry cooking water as necessary. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
© 2013 USHG, LLC, and Karen Stabiner
Reprinted with permission from Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). All rights reserved.