Purple sprouting broccoli with leek and shallot farrotto

Since my vegetarian days I have been a big lover of Denis Cotter, his cookbooks and Cafe Paradiso. The restaurant is lovely and the food there is great but I think what appeals most is his wonderful amusing writing and modest outlook on life. I first went over to Cork to visit Paradiso for my tenth wedding anniversary and was lucky enough to meet Denis. For such a highly regarded, creative chef and writer he’s amazingly modest and one of my favourite people. I have been to the restaurant twice in one weekend since I became vegan and the food was excellent, but some of my favourite recipes from his books are no longer available to me. I have made vegan versions of some, and sometimes you’ll stumble across a naturally vegan one (usually Asian influenced), but if you do eat cheese I can highly recommend his recipes as some of the most creative lacto vegetarian recipes you’ll ever find.

I’d had my eye on this recipe from his latest book for quite a while. Last year when I was inundated with sprouting broccoli from my vegetable box, I hunted high and low for farro and couldn’t find it. The day I found it, in Sainsbury’s no less, was just about the last sprouting broccoli of the year!! Anyway, today I remembered both, and English sprouting broccoli was back, so I decided to make a vegan version. I made the farrotto almost as listed but I used plenty of Yellow Rose Recipes parmesan and olive oil instead of their dairy counterparts. The broccoli part I followed exactly but my broccoli was a bit stringy so I steamed it briefly first.

It was my first time using whole farro/spelt and I loved it. The whole combination was absolutely delicious and I was blown away by the risotto part of it. It was so tasty and a great texture. The idea of the tomatoey, spicy broccoli was good but my broccoli remained staunchly stringy and chewy, which ruined it a bit. I’d definitely make it again but I’d substitute the far cheaper and more reliable kale or greens for the broccoli next time because I think they’d have the same earthy green effect against the creamy farrotto.