Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar

Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar makes a tasty side dish, and the leftovers for this can be refrigerated and reheated.

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Farro with Mushrooms

I’m accumulating a lot of cookbooks, and sometimes I just don’t get around to trying anything from them, even when the recipes look great. That’s been the case with Lorna Sass’ great book, Whole Grains, Every Day Every Way. I’ve been reading this informative book for months, but this Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar is the first thing I’ve cooked from it.

The book has gotten me interested in many grains I’m not familiar with like farro, spelt, amaranth, and millet. I wanted to try farro for months, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in Salt Lake, not even Whole Foods! Then my generous brother Rand got some at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and sent it to me. (I loved the flavor of farro when I tried this recipe, and once I had my hands on some, I did find the same brand of Organic Italian Farro by Giancomo Santoleri at Amazon.com, hooray!) You can also make this recipe with brown rice or barley if you don’t find any farro where you are.

Farro is the Italian name for Emmer wheat, an ancient grain which is often confused with spelt (and in Italy it’s also called spelt, which adds to the confusion.) Apparently Farro (Triticum dicoccum) and spelt (Triticum speltum) are cousins, but they’re not the same grain. Both grains are high in protein but low in gluten, with spelt being even lower than farro. Both are also very high in B vitamins.

Farro is grown in many parts of Italy, Southern Europe and Morocco, and is often used as a whole grain side dish or in soups or risotto. Cooked farro has a pleasantly chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Some types of farro need to be pre-soaked, but most farro imported from Italy to the U.S. will be “semi-perlato” which means that much of the bran has been removed, and it cooks quickly.

Because the plant produces low yields, it’s relatively expensive compared to other types of grain, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping it from gaining increased popularity among health-conscious food lovers. I think the fans of Weekend Herb Blogging might be interested in learning more about Farro, so I’m submitting this entry to Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, who’s hosting this week.

This is the way the farro looked before it was cooked. You can almost tell by looking that some of the bran has been removed, so this is definitely “semi-perlato.”

I followed Lorna Sass’ instruction for cooking the farro in water, and here’s how it looked once it was cooked.

Browning the mushrooms well is essential to the flavor of this dish. I cooked them about 5 minutes over fairly high heat.

I was quite excited that I had fresh thyme from my garden to make this, but you could also use frozen thyme or even dried thyme.

 

Make it a Meal:

This would taste great with Pork Chops with Balsamic Glaze or Chicken and Quickly Roasted Asparagus served with Tahini Sauce.

More Bloggers Who’ve Discovered Farro:

Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash from 101 Cookbooks
Farro with Collard Greens and Bacon Salt from Herbivoracious
Farro with Asparagus and Green Onion Sauce from A Veggie Venture

Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar

Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar makes a tasty side dish to compliment any meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic. each cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup diced red onions (or use shallots which were in the original recipe)
  • 24 oz. sliced baby bella (Crimini) mushrooms, stems cut in half lengthwise and caps sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 T water (original recipe called for Marsala wine, but this worked great)
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme (or use 2 tsp. frozen thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 3 cups cooked farro (see below for how to cook the farro. Cooked barley or brown rice can also be substituted.)

Directions:

  1. To make 3 cups cooked Farro:
    1 cup farro
    1 3/4 cups water
    pinch salt
  2. Have the water heating in a teakettle or pan so it will be boiling when you’re ready to add it to the farro.
  3. Use a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. (I used my blue enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven.)
  4. Add the farro to dry pan and toast over medium-high heat until it starts to look and smell toasted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, and then carefully pour in the boiling water (it will boil up and sputter, so be careful.)
  6. Add the salt (I used Vege-Sal), then turn heat back on to a low simmer, cover pan, and let cook until the farro is tender, but chewy, about 20 minutes. (I would start checking after about 15 minutes. You may need to add a tiny bit more water.)
  7. Use a large heavy frying pan for the second part of the recipe. (I’m not a fan of non-stick pans for some things, but it worked well here.)
  8. Heat the oil, then add the onion and garlic and saute until onions are starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove garlic and discard.
  10. Add sliced mushrooms and stems, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and saute over medium high heat until mushrooms have released their liquid and are well browned, about 5 minutes (or longer, depending on your pan.)
  11. Stir in the balsamic vinegar/water mixture and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. (If using dried thyme, add it with the balsamic vinegar.)
  12. Add cooked farro and heat 2-3 minutes, stirring gently. If your pan is not non-stick, you may need to add a bit of water when you heat the farro.
  13. When farro is heated through and moistened, add the fresh thyme (or use 2 tsp. frozen thyme , thawed) , stir, season with salt if desired and serve hot.

Notes:

This recipe is adapted from Whole Grains, Every Day Every Way.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:

Whole grains like the the farro used in this Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar are a perfect side dish for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet, or any low-glycemic eating plan. This is too high in carbs for a low-carb diet.

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