I’m not usually interested in making a dish that feels so ‘wintery’ in the middle of March, but since we’re looking at the possibility of snow for tomorrow, I think it’s ok. Besides, we just put the finishing the touches on planning our family vacation for this summer. It’s the light at the end of this long, cold, wet, windy tunnel that has been our New York winter. It also brings crashing in the reality of beingseen in public in something less than a puffy coat and the desperate need to eat well and exercise- a lot!– before venturing to the beach. Unfortunately, we’re still in the midst of our New York winter so we still want a warm, comforting meal at the end of the day.

So on a recent cold, windy night we decided to get creative in an attempt to find warm comfort in a healthful meal. We turned to farro (wholesome and filling) and added in one of favorite winter veggies- brussels sprouts. Cooking faro in the style of risotto, aka farrotto, gives you a bowl of creamy goodness without the heaviness or added fat of classic risotto. Finishing it off with raw, thinly sliced brussels sprouts keeps your preparation simple while packing in nutrients and fiber. Because when porchetta makes it on to your weeknight dinner menu, you’d better be darn sure you’ve got a healthful side dish to go along with it.

Brussels Sprouts Farrotto
serves 4
12 large brussels sprouts (about 3/4 lb)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
 1 small onion, finely minced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup farro
4 cups water divided
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Trim the stem from the brussels and slice lengthwise, as thinly as possible. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cut brussels, lemon zest and juice, caraway and salt. Toss well to combine and set aside to marinate.

In a medium saucepot, combine the onion, water, salt and olive oil and place over medium heat. Simmer stirring often until all the water is evaporated and the onion begins to sizzle. Before the onion browns, stir in the farro. Add 2 cups water and stir well. Allow the mixture to return to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring often until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Add another 2 cups of water to the pot and continue cooking in the same manner. If after the second addition of water is absorbed the farro is still crunchy, add 1/2 cup of water and cook more. Continue cooking adding 1/2 cup water at a time until the farro is tender. The finished farro should creamy, but not too wet. Boil the mixture to thicken if your farro is ‘soupy.’

Reduce the heat under the farro to low and stir in the brussels sprouts. Stir constantly until the brussels are softened. Add the mustard and cheese and taste for season. Add salt and pepper as needed.