Unfortunately last week the temperature here in Baltimore hit below the 10 degrees Fahrenheit mark (it was 1 degree(s?), if you want to get into specifics), so not too much good produce is available to us at the moment. Tap roots survived the big freeze so I am learning to fall in love with parsnips again and that’s how this parsnip sorghum risotto was born. The jalapeno I used was generously provided by one of the plants on my windowsill! The sorghum was purchased a few months ago from Barry Farm (when I needed a new pack of barley malt powder for the bagels I was making), and is finally making its way into the rotation.
I know sorghum flour crops up in gluten-free baking – but have you ever tried cooking it whole as a grain before? This was my first time and I liked it a lot, but making a sorghum risotto required sage-like amounts of patience, as it took more than 3 hours to cook through the first time. I’ve now learned the lesson to soak sorghum overnight first, or par-cook it before starting the risotto, or even both. Timing aside, sorghum’s got a nutty taste and chewy texture similar to barley (but minus the gluten), and more importantly it’s packed with nutrition.
I’ve got about 1 cup of dried sorghum left so I do welcome your suggestions for other ways to prepare it. My philosophy on grains is that risotto is always delicious if I’m not sure what else to do but I’ve never found a grain before that took so dang long to cook. So next time I’d like to try something a little bit faster!
When it was finally done cooking, the parsnips had imparted a deep sweetness and that’s why I chose a spicy riff on pesto to balance everything out. I think other pesto recipes would be good with this, too, but I’d suggest stirring in an extra splash of lemon juice or cider vinegar to increase the acidity as a counterpoint to the risotto.
Creamy Parsnip Sorghum Risotto with Jalapeno Pesto
Vegetables to prep beforehand:
- 3 parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 head of cauliflower roughly chopped
For the risotto:
For the pesto:
- 1 jalapeno seeds and guts removed, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- 3 tbsp toasted walnuts (or other nut of choice)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Prep the parsnips and cauliflower:
- Cook the parsnips in whatever way you prefer. I roughly chopped and then steamed them, but roasting could also work.
- Steam the caulifower - either in a steamer basket or in a large pan with about an inch of water in it, for around 10 minutes or until soft all the way through.
- Add the parsnips and cauliflower to a blender or food processor and run until completely smooth.
Start the risotto:
- In a large saucepan heat the oil, and when shimmering, add the garlic, celery, and onion, stirring to combine. Sautee for about 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add the drained sorghum grains to the saucepan and stir. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently (you may smell a toasted aroma from the grains).
- Add the white wine and a cup of water or broth and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.
- Continue cooking, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until sorghum is cooked through. Add water or broth 1/2 cup at a time whenever the sorghum has absorbed most of the liquid.
- When the sorghum is soft but chewy, stir in the parsnips and cauliflower. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for a few more minutes to meld the flavors and until the mixture is not runny. The overall cooking process will take somewhere around 60 minutes.
For the pesto:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until coarse. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to blend. Do not fully puree.
What’s your strategy for getting fruits and veggies into your diet during the winter? Sometimes I think that frozen blueberries are the reason for my sanity!