One of the challenges to transitioning to a plant-based diet is that some people do not feel satisfied after a vegetarian meal. Here is a dish that will satisfy a hungry appetite, as farro is filling and mushrooms provide a meaty flavor and substance in the absence of meat. I served this with lentils and roasted carrots for a well-rounded meal.
Farro is an ancient whole wheat grain that has a chewy, nubby texture and is hearty, filling and nutritious. It is unrefined and needs to be soaked before cooking. It is high in fiber, vitamin B3, magnesium and zinc. I wanted to make a risotto-sort of dish incorporating mushrooms and farro, but I wanted to bake it because baking is easier than tending to a pan on the stove. The result follows. I served it to dinner guests who said they liked it and would make it themselves, so it is worth trying yourself! Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy baking time. You can do other things while it is in the oven! I used a combination of shiitake and cremini mushrooms in my dish, but any kind of mushrooms will be delicious in this.
1 cup farro, rinsed then soaked in water for at least 3 hours (overnight better)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small or medium onion,diced
4 Tbs butter
3 garlic cloves, pressed
8 cups vegetable broth, heated
1/2 cup white wine
Pinch of saffron
3/4 tsp salt
Sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 cup freshly grated reggiano parmigiano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium low heat. Sauté onions and salt until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic and saffron, stir and cook for about 3 minutes, then stir in drained farro, coating all kernels with butter. Strip leaves off of thyme sprig into the pan and stir. Add wine, raise heat to medium and stir continuously until liquid is mostly absorbed. Transfer farro mixture to oiled 9”x13” baking pan. Pour vegetable broth over farro and spread mixtue evenly. Bake for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until liquid is absorbed (check it periodically). If it is still soupy, cook longer. When it seems almost finished, stir in parmigiano, spread evenly and bake a few more minutes. Sprinkle additional parmigiano over the top after you remove it from the oven.