If I left things up to my child, he would eat nothing but pilfered items from the candy drawer (no judging) and fur-bedazzled bites of string cheese he finds under his Thinking Chair. Sometimes I get mom guilt and feel like he should be eating nourishment molecules that aren’t in the form of refined corn syrup and dog hair. Those are the times that I reach into my bag of estrogen tricks and con him into eating real food by letting him help MAKE the real food.
This can be easier said than done. He’s 2. He’s sticky and touches his own butt a lot. He lacks fine motor control necessary for things like “stirring” without flinging bits of food all over the place. In short, having him touch my food doesn’t give me giant wads of desire to eat my food. And fear of having my kitchen look like a crime scene is mitigated only by the adorable toddler smiles and sheer joy he gets out of cooking with mommy.
Something we made recently that was a HUGE hit was farro risotto. In culinary snoot terms, “farroto.” I tried to make him say it and he said “FARTO” and then laughed, so I’m sticking with farro risotto until he is old enough to stop being male. Farro risotto is a creamy, flavorful starch dish that can be made as a side, or mixed with a bag of frozen veggies and some diced chicken to make a meal. If you like risotto, and are into a little bit of variety, I guarantee you’ll love this.
Farro is an ancient grain that is chock full of good nutrients and whole graininess, but is also like a chewier, nuttier brown rice. Almost. Better, though. Definitely worth trying, and they carry big bags of the organic farro for cheap at bulk membership clubs (yes, the big ones that you almost certainly have a membership to). If not, any natural grocery store has it, and many larger chain stores do too!
Farro risotto is great because it involves measuring dry, easily vacuumed ingredients. My kiddo loved helping to scoop the farro, rinse it off, and then stir it while it cooked. This left me free to do things like google “farto” to see if it was a real thing. It is not, in case you were curious. Cheap, easy, and a toddler can do it. That’s gotta count for something!
- 2 C farro
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 of a large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t olive oil
- 2 C rich chicken broth or veggie broth
- 1/2 C white wine*
- 2 T butter
- 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese (not the kind in a can, please, for the love of God)
- 1/4 t thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil
- Rinse farro, and add to boiling water. Cook per instructions to a fairly chewy al dente.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until translucent (don’t brown)
- When they’re dry and translucent, stir in herbs and then white wine and cook for 2 mins, stirring gently
- Drain farro and add to skillet, combining with onions and garlic. Turn heat to high to dry up any spare liquid
- Add stock all in one go, and simmer until the farro has absorbed most of the liquid. Should be a softer al dente, but still have some pleasant toothiness to it. Reduce to low heat
- Add butter and grated parmesan and stir until it melts.
- Serve warm
My son ate this like it was a new flavor of Twizzler. He couldn’t get enough of it! And he ate some more for breakfast the next morning. He called it “special rice,” which is close enough. It’s at least special, and shaped vaguely like rice, so I’m running with it. I can explain the intricacies of grain nomenclature when he’s an adult. And, when I’m done explaining it, he’ll likely yell “FARTO!”