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Easy Baked Risotto with a Twist

Craving creamy comfort, but short on time? This Easy Baked Farro Risotto is ready in under 35 minutes in your oven or air fryer! Farro swaps in for arborio for a healthy twist, while roasted lemon and asparagus add pops of bright Spring flavour. It all goes straight to the oven. Simple, elegant, and perfect for busy midweeks

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Enter easy baked risotto – a convenient twist on the classic dish that eliminates much of the hands-on time and effort while still delivering delicious results. 

Just a heads up, this post contains Amazon affiliate links. Don’t worry, these are products I personally love and recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Happy cooking and thanks for supporting Culinary Cartel!

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish made by slowly cooking Arborio rice in broth until it reaches a rich, creamy consistency. The key to a good risotto lies in the technique of gradually adding warm broth to the rice while stirring constantly, which helps release the rice’s starches and create its characteristic creamy texture. Traditionally, risotto is flavoured with ingredients like onions, garlic, wine, Parmesan cheese, and various herbs and spices, resulting in a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit any taste preferences.

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Hassle-Free Weeknight Wonder

Unlike traditional stovetop risotto recipes that require constant stirring and attention, easy baked risotto offers a more hands-off approach that saves time and effort in the kitchen.

By baking the risotto in the oven or air fryer, you can achieve similar creamy results with minimal stirring. An easy baked risotto will allow you to focus on other tasks or simply relax while your meal cooks. Additionally, this method ensures more consistent heat distribution, reducing the risk of burning or uneven cooking that can occur on the stovetop.

The Health Benefits of Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain in the wheat family, closely related to modern wheat varieties. Its nutty flavour and chewy texture make it a popular ingredient in various dishes.

What sets spelt apart from modern wheat varieties is its nutritional profile and digestibility. Some people find spelt easier to digest than wheat due to its lower gluten content, although it’s not suitable for those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance. Spelt is also higher in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals compared to modern wheat, making it a nutritious choice for those looking to add more whole grains to their diet.

Spelt offers several health benefits, making it a nutritious addition to your diet:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Spelt is packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It contains B vitamins (particularly niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin), magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.
  • High in Protein: Spelt is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a valuable food for vegetarians and vegans. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, as well as overall health and wellness.
  • Rich in Fibre: Spelt is high in dietary fibre, which is important for digestive health. Fibre helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome and aids in weight management by promoting feelings of fullness and reducing appetite.
  • Low Glycemic Index: Spelt has a lower glycemic index compared to refined wheat products, meaning it has a less significant impact on blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.
  • Heart Health: The fibre, vitamins, and minerals found in spelt contribute to heart health. Fibre helps lower cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease, while magnesium and potassium support healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Bone Health: Spelt contains essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, which are important for bone health. These minerals play a role in bone formation, strength, and density, helping to prevent osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Spelt contains antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, which help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of various chronic diseases.

How to Customise Your Easy Baked Risotto

One of the joys of making this easy baked risotto is its versatility, allowing you to customise the dish with a wide range of ingredients to suit your preferences. Experiment with different vegetables, proteins, cheeses, herbs, and spices to create unique flavour combinations that reflect your personal taste. Additionally, you can adjust the consistency of your risotto by varying the amount of stock.

You can replace the asparagus with peas, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, or use up your leftover protein, like roast chicken.

Add some crunch by topping your easy baked risotto with nuts, seeds, toasted breadcrumbs, crispy onion or chorizo, etc.

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Tips for Texture

Achieving the perfect texture is key to a successful risotto, whether baked or prepared on the stovetop. 

  • Start the cooking process by soaking the spelt or barley (see FAQs) to soften the grains and start the cooking process.
  • Choose fresh grains (check the sell-by date of you spelt). Older grains may take longer to cook.
  • Check the stock level every ten or so minutes to ensure the risotto doesn’t bake dry.
  • Rest the risotto for about five minutes after heating through the asparagus tips or protein.

Easy Baked Risotto: Air Fryer vs Oven

When it comes to baking risotto, you have two main options: using an oven or an air fryer.

Both methods offer the convenience of hands-off cooking, but there are some differences to consider.

Baking risotto in the oven typically requires longer cooking times but allows you to make larger batches and achieve a slightly crispier texture on top.

On the other hand, using an air fryer offers faster cooking times and can result in a more evenly cooked dish with a softer texture throughout.

Ultimately, the choice between the two methods depends on your preferences and the equipment you have available.

Store-Bought or Homemade Stock?

When it comes to stock, the choice between store-bought and homemade often boils down to flavour, quality, and convenience. Store-bought stock offers a quick and easy solution for busy cooks, but it may lack the depth of flavour and nutritional value found in homemade versions.

Making your own chicken stock at home allows you to maximise flavour while minimising waste by using ingredients like a chicken carcass and vegetable scraps that might otherwise be discarded. By simmering these ingredients in a pressure cooker, you can extract every last bit of flavour and nutrients in a fraction of the time it takes on the stovetop.

Homemade chicken stock tastes richer and more flavourful and allows you to control the ingredients, avoiding additives and preservatives often found in commercial stocks. Plus, by repurposing leftovers and kitchen scraps, you can reduce food waste and make the most of every ingredient.

Love the Easy Baked Risotto with a Twist?

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. And if you want more risotto inspiration, have a look at these:

Ultimate Crispy Risotto Balls with Butternut, Crispy Sage and Aioli

Quick Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Herbs and Rocket Pesto

Baked Vegan Mushroom Risotto

Happy cooking!

Shop the Equipment

These are Amazon affiliate links of the products I personally love and recommend. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Instant Vortex Plus VersaZone Dual Air Fryer

Instant Pot Duo Plus with WhisperQuiet Multi-Cooker

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this recipe suitable for vegans?

You can use vegetable stock and replace the crème fraiche and cheese with vegan equivalents.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

No. While some people find spelt easier to digest than wheat due to its lower gluten content, it’s not suitable for those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance. Barley isn’t gluten-free either.

Can I use barley instead of spelt?

Yes! Using barley will require a little more cooking time. You’ll need to soak it for 5 – 10 minutes and may need to add more stock when cooking it for longer to ensure it’s soft.

Can I use an oven if I don’t have an air fryer?

Absolutely! I’ve given the timings and temperatures for both.

 

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Easy Baked Risotto With A Twist


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  • Author: Jess
  • Total Time: <35 Mins
  • Yield: serves 2-3

Description

Craving creamy comfort, but short on time? This Easy Baked Farro Risotto is ready in under 35 minutes in your oven or air fryer! Farro swaps in for arborio for a healthy twist, while roasted lemon and asparagus add bright Spring flavour. It all goes straight to the oven. Simple, elegant, and perfect for busy midweeks


Ingredients

2 onions

1 lemon

1 clove garlic

200g pearled spelt/farro (to use barley, see FAQs)

300ml chicken or vegetable stock + 100200ml to use as needed

2 Tbsp creme fraiche

25g grated parmesan

8g/handful parsley finely chopped

1 bunch/ 100g asparagus tips

Oil, salt and pepper as needed

Chopped pistachios to finish (optional)


Instructions

 

  1. Slice the onions thinly into half moons and place them in a large air fryer or oven-safe baking dish.

  2. Grate the zest of one unwaxed lemon over the onions and grate in a garlic clove. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss everything together.

  3. Halve the zested lemon and nestle it amongst the onions.

  4. Cook:
    In the air fryer:  10 minutes at 170°C (340°F), stirring once to brown the onions evenly. There is no need to preheat
    In the Oven: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
    Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes at 180°C (350°F), or until the onions are golden brown and soft.

  5. While the onions are cooking (either method), pour boiling water over the pearled spelt in a separate bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes to soften a touch. Drain the water.

  6. Remove the onions from the air fryer or oven.

  7. Drain the pearled spelt and add it to the baking dish with the onions. Squeeze the roasted lemon over the dish, releasing all the juice and flesh over the grains. Discard the remaining lemon and remove any seeds that fall in.

  8.  Pour the stock over the grains, check the seasoning and stir to combine.

  9. Return the dish to the air fryer or oven to cook.
    In the Air Fryer:
    Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes at 170°C (340°F). Until the spelt grains are soft and tender
    In the oven: Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes at 180°C (350°F), or until the spelt is tender.
    While Cooking: Check the liquid. As dishes vary in shape, and thus speed of evaporation, you may need to top up with more stock to keep grains nice and submerged.

  10. While the spelt cooks, thinly slice the asparagus stems, leaving tips (the last 3-4cm) whole.

  11. Once the spelt is cooked, add the asparagus tips, sliced stems, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and creme fraiche to the dish. Stir everything together gently.

  12. Cook for an additional 5 minutes in the air fryer or oven, or until the asparagus tips are al dente (tender but crisp). Check the consistency of your grain risotto, adding a further splash of water or stock to achieve a nice loose, but not runny, risotto-like consistency

  13. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, spoon onto plates, top with more parmesan if desired, a sprinkle of pistachios, and a drizzle of oil.

  • Prep Time: 5-10
  • Cook Time: 20-25
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