If you are anything like us, it feels like summer has truly arrived once fresh peaches are in season. Traditionally relegated to pies, compotes, desserts, or even a pizza, this risotto redefines the juicy Georgia peach as a must-use ingredient for a savory summer dish.
Combined with a couple squeaky cheese curds and a crunchy pecan chili topping this risotto is just delicious. Trust us on this one; we think your taste buds will agree.
In our view, a risotto made entirely with traditional white Arborio rice, selected for its high starch and short-grain creaminess, misses the nutrition available from whole grains. On a quest to eat healthier and more nutritious meals, this dish had been knocked down on our dinner rotation somewhat. Not willing to settle for that fate, we’ve been testing our alternatives.
An exclusively whole grain risotto (one using only short brown rice, wheat berries, barley, etc.) can be quite earthy. We find this 50/50 blend keeps traditional risotto creaminess while boosting its nutritional benefit. Consider it the best of both worlds, and a compromise for the whole grain experimenter.
If you are just starting out cooking with whole grains, it might be helpful to know that a spelt berry is the entire wheat kernel, and a variety of wheat berry. Either could be used in this recipe.
Cheese curds, if you’ve never come across them, are the youngest form of cheese and most often a precursor to cheddar. In small bite-sized bits, they have a slightly rubbery texture that squeak when eaten cold. Once stirred into the risotto however, you’ll find a slightly chewy and delightfully stringy bite. Typically from Wisconsin or Canada, they are available at many specialty grocers, though if you have trouble tracking them down use a flavorful Parmigiano-Reggiano instead.
Last, though certainly not least, everyone knows that peaches and pecans are perfectly paired 🙂 Thanks to Denis Cotter’s For the Love of Food, we’ve become big fans of a crumb topping on risottos and the great variety of texture they bring. The slightly spicy and crisp pecan crumb reunites the Georgia peaches with their perfect companion, and rounds the dish out for a delightful summer meal.
Enjoy with a simple side salad, and a glass of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
- ¾ cups spelt berries
- 6 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of crushed garlic
- ¾ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon of thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 fresh peaches
- 1 cup of fresh cheese curds
- 2-3 small slices, approx 40 grams of bread (day old or frozen)
- 4 tablespoons pecans, chopped coarsely
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
- 2 teaspoons of dried red chili flakes
- Boil the spelt berries in plenty of water for 20 minutes, until semi-tender.
- Warm stock in a second pot, keep on low heat.
- In a large stockpot on medium heat, sauté the diced onion and garlic in olive oil, about 5 minutes
- Add the arborio rice, and stir until slightly toasty, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the spelt berries, white wine, and thyme.
- Stir risotto mixture over low-medium/medium heat until warmed and most liquid is absorbed. Add ⅓ cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Continue to add stock ½ cup at a time, stirring regularly, keeping the temperature at a very soft simmer. While the risotto cooks, prepare the crumb topping.
- When approximately 1 cup of stock remains, check the tenderness of the risotto to your taste and continue adding stock as desired.
- Slice the peaches into bite sized pieces.
- Toast your bread on low until it is dried out and crisp on each side.
- Chop the bread, along with the pecans and parsley, into rough crumbs.
- In a pan heat up 1 tbsp olive oil and add bread crumbs, pecans and parsley, string frequently until toasted and fragrant. Set aside.
- Immediately before serving, stir the peach slices and cheese curds into the risotto pot.
- Dish into a bowl, and top with a generous sprinkling of crumb
- Serve with a simple green side salad, and glass of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
Please, let us know what you think!