Amanda & Merrill

Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan

July 13, 2010


Farro Salad with Mushrooms and Parmesan

- Merrill

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Amanda knows all too well about my obsession with farro. I make it all the time just to have it around at home -- whether for a meal or a snack -- and I always order the house farro salad, which changes with the seasons, at Morandi, one of our favorite lunch spots. The other week, at a restaurant near me in Brooklyn, I tried a special appetizer of roasted mushrooms and farro. It ended up being more mushroom than farro, and while I might have preferred the opposite, the synthesis of flavors was spot on. The entire dish was perfumed with parmesan, which, instead of being grated, had been crumbled into tiny pebbles (my guess was that this was accomplished with a food processor, but it could have been chopped by hand). 

The result was an earthy, umami-rich salad that may sound perfect for winter but was actually well-suited to dining al fresco on a balmy summer evening, thanks to a healthy dose of lemon juice and parsley. Below is my attempt to recreate the salad, using basically the opposite ratio of farro to mushrooms. I did mention I'm obsessed, right?

Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan

Serves 4

  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound wild mushrooms (use a mix of your favorites)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped or crumbled parmesan (not grated – you want a slightly coarser texture here)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the farro and enough cold water to cover it by about an inch. Soak for 20 minutes. Drain well and return the farro to the pan, again covering it with cold water. Add a few generous pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the farro is tender but still has some bite. 

2. While the farro is cooking, wipe and trim the mushrooms and then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently to distribute everything; spread the mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until crisp around the edges and cooked through. 

3. When the farro is cooked, drain it well and spread it on a clean baking sheet to cool. Do the same with the mushrooms once they are cooked. When the farro and mushrooms are close to room temperature, or just barely warm, combine them in a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing gently to combine. Then add the parmesan, parsley and a generous grinding of pepper and fold gently. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.


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Hyperbole1981 August 8, 2010
Somewhere, I once read a similar recipe that included roasting the mushrooms and handfuls of grapes in oil and smoked paprika. If you've never tried this combination, please get on it. It will change your summer/spring/fall/winter. SO delicious.
Merrill S. August 8, 2010
Wow, that sounds really cool! Will definitely try it.
TinaMiB July 25, 2010
Outstanding fresh recipe! I will be making this over and over. The lemon juice really gives it a summery feel. I had some leftovers cold out of the fridge today and it was just as refreshing as it was freshly cooked.
Merrill S. August 8, 2010
So glad you liked it. And I agree that the lemon is key.
annalea July 24, 2010
made this tonight with wheat berries instead of farro and it was fab! great flavors and endless adaptability. cheers!
Merrill S. August 8, 2010
Sounds like a great substitution.
tucsonbabe July 18, 2010
For those of us who live in the hinterlands, farro is available on Amazon. There is no need to substitute spelt. Farro and mushroom risotto is also heavenly.
Merrill S. July 18, 2010
Amazon has EVERYTHING these days, doesn't it? And I agree: farrotto (as I've heard it termed) is divine.
kathynyc July 18, 2010
LOVE farro. And mushrooms. awesome combo idea!
Merrill S. July 18, 2010
Thank you! But I can't take credit for the idea, which I thought was great too when I had it in 2 different restaurants!
Happyolks July 14, 2010
Can the "favorite things" song from The Sound of Music please be playing in the background to this? love love love!
Merrill S. July 18, 2010
Food set to music: always a good idea.
Kaitlin W. July 13, 2010
I think I drooled when I read this. I can't wait to make this and share it on my blog!
Merrill S. July 18, 2010
dymnyno July 13, 2010
I just "discovered" farro a couple of months ago....and now I wonder where was I all these years! I love the stuff and make it at least a couple times a week.
Merrill S. July 13, 2010
Farro lovers unite!
healthierkitchen July 13, 2010
calendargirl July 13, 2010
OK, farro does it! I'm in! After many months of visiting this wonderful site, recommending it to others, delighting in the way these recipes have given a much-needed boost to what appears on my family's dinner table (not to mention my admiration for the genius of what A and M are doing)... I must speak up and agree: farro is the best! There are others, Merrill, who share your noble obsession.
Merrill S. July 13, 2010
I'm so glad I'm not alone! Thanks for jumping in, and for your lovely compliments.
thirschfeld July 13, 2010
Looks great. I have a question that has always confused me, is spelt the same as farro? I often see disagreement about this.
healthierkitchen July 13, 2010
I love farro too and have had issues with this same question. I think they are similar, though not completely identical. I have never found domestic farro, only from Italy, and it's always semi-pearled or perlato. The spelt I can find is not pearled at all so it cooks more slowly. Love to hear what you know, Merrill!
Merrill S. July 13, 2010
I found this piece in the Times really helpful:
calendargirl July 13, 2010
Lorna Sass (see her excellent book: WHOLE GRAINS EVERY DAY EVERY WAY, Clarkson Potter, 2006) has written authoritatively on the difference between spelt and farro. Check out this entry in her blog:
healthierkitchen July 13, 2010
the NYTimes article mentions one of my favorite farro recipes - the farro and kale with the egg on top from Olives and Oranges! We had a delicious creamy farro with spinach and a roasted egg appetizer at Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay a couple of weeks ago. I guess I qualify as obsessed as well?
thirschfeld July 13, 2010
I have always suspected a difference since spelt is about twice the size of farro when cooked. I must say I only find farro pearled and anytime a grain is pearled it cooks much quicker. I have never seen pearled spelt. That said I have accidentally discovered a technique for cooking unpearled grains that I think works wonders. I place the grain into cold water, bring it to a boil and let it boil for two minutes. I turn it off and let it sit, covered, for what was supposed to be two hours but I forgot about it for six hours. When I came back to it it was perfectly al dente. I then used it like I would a pearled grain and cooked it like rissotto. It absorbed all the flavors and was tender to the tooth.
thirschfeld July 13, 2010
Oh and the Times article is great. Thanks
healthierkitchen July 13, 2010
Thanks for the great idea for the unpearled grains, thirschfeld, and thanks, Merrill, for another great way to eat farro!
Merrill S. July 13, 2010
So glad the post sparked this conversation!