Portobello and Farro Salad

It’s that time of year, where we hold our bellies and groan, “I’m sooo over sweets — I’ll never eat that much junk again.”

This shallow promise will be broken by mid-January, but for now, I can’t look at another cookie, people. Not one. Not even from a distance. Cakes and cheesecakes make me want to yak. Me and chocolate have agreed on a temporary separation.

No, SoupAddict and plain, whole grain cereal have been best buddies this week. BFFs to the first degree.

And vegetables. Gorgeous, colorful, savory vegetables. They’re friends, too. Oh, and Hello, dried cranberries. You’re welcome here. You, too, walnuts.

And grains. SoupAddict craves da grains.

Meet Farro. Farro is a wheat of ancient origin, grown now most commonly in Italy. Similar to barley and wheatberries, it looks like brown rice when cooked, but with a slight crunch and a sweet, nutty flavor. And it’s expensive as all get out (about $8/lb). If you’re lucky, your local Whole Foods will carry it in their bulk bins.

Or, if you’re really lucky, you live in Italy so you can find it at the corner grocery. (That and, oh, you live in Italy.)

Toasting really brings out the flavor of walnuts. Sweetens them somehow. But not in a cookie way. Blech. Cookies.

SoupAddict loves how winter meals need not be orange and brown all the time. Orange and brown can be wonderful, but like post-Christmas sweets, sometimes, you just need a break.

Serve while the mushrooms are still hot, but the salad is room temperature. Or, if you’re like SoupAddict and room temperature is somewhere south of 65° in the winter, toss it in the oven for 5 minutes to take the chill off.

Portobello and Farro Salad


4 cups water
1 cup farro (semi-pearled is easiest to find and cook)
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 green onions, sliced
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 large portobello mushroom, stem removed, sliced into 1/4″ slices
salt and pepper to taste

Bring 4 cups water and farro to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes (if using regular farro, cooking time could be up to 30 to 40 minutes). Drain.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegars and honey, then drizzle in 3 tablespoons of oil and whisk to combine. Mix farro, parsley, cranberries, onions, shallot, and garlic in medium bowl. Add the honey vinegar mixture and stir until well combined. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead up to this point. Let stand at room temperature.)

Toast chopped walnuts in a saute pan over medium heat. Stir frequently until golden brown and fragrant. Add to the farro mixture. Taste the salad and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Heat remaining oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Lightly brush mushroom slices with additional olive oil on both sides. Add the mushroom slices to the hot pan. Cook the mushrooms about 3 minutes each side, or until the mushrooms are deeply golden brown, but not limp. Remove to cutting board and slice into 1″ wide pieces. Top the salad with the mushroom pieces (stirring some in, and then leaving some to spread around the top). Serve salad at room temperature.

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