Kale, mushroom and lemon farroto

2015-10-04 17.12.56
Kale, mushroom and lemon farroto

Farro (or épautre in French), is an ancient grain that looks like a cross between barley and brown rice. It has a unique nutty taste and chewy texture and is a key food in the fight against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Farro is rich in protein and fiber and contains a host of minerals and vitamins. It’s particularly high in magnesium, which supports muscle, nerve and bone function and niacin (Vitamin B3), which breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It’s the perfect food to eat when you’re working out or on the go. You can read more on the health benefits of farro here.

Farro has recently become a superfood in many kitchens around the world. So much, that farro is now included in every stage of a meal – in hors d’oeuvres, starters, soups, salads, main meals and even in desserts!

I’m a big fan of farro, not only because it tastes good, but also because it gives me that extra boost of energy that I sometimes need to get through the day. Last week, I experimented with farro and came up with this delicious autumn dish:

Kale, mushrooms and lemon farroto.

The word farroto comes from the word risotto. Risotto is a traditional Italian dish that is slowly cooked with rice and wine. Farroto is similar to risotto, except it is made with farro and not rice.

With the mushrooms and kale in season right now, this hearty autumn dish can be served as a main meal or a side dish, and it can also be enjoyed all year round. This recipe tastes peppery, smoky and tart and the texture isn’t soft like risotto, instead, it’s more chewy and meaty, which is how cooked farro should be. Also, the lemon juice and zest added to the ingredients give the farroto a refreshing and clean taste.

With kale and farro as the main ingredients, this low-fat dish is nutrient dense and filling. For a better understanding of the health benefits of kale, you can read about it here.

Here is the recipe and I hope you will enjoy making it!

Serves approx. 6 to 8 people.

Preparation time after organizing the ingredients: 40-50 minutes.

Note: Whole grain farro is better for your health than the pearled or semi-pearled kind. However, with the whole grained kind, you need to soak the grains for 8-12 hours over night in a bowl of cold water with the cover on.

Prepare the following ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole grain farro (soaked for 8-12 hours) – strained and rinsed.  Set aside.
  • 2 medium size onions, chopped fine
  • 2-3 garlic buds, pressed
  • 1 generous cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods, smashed
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1 lemon: zested (grate the dark outer peel) and juiced – set these 2 aside.
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon (or veggie bouillon cubes + water)
  • 2 cups of fresh kale leaves, washed, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup hard full-flavoured cheese (like Gruyère), grated
  • Salt, pepper, pinch of thyme
  • 3 tbsps olive oil


Heat oil in a large shallow pan. On medium-high heat, add onions and garlic and fry for 2 minutes until soft and a little golden. Add the mushrooms and stir for another minute until soft. You might have to lower or adjust the heat. Add the spices and stir for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Then stir in the farro and add lemon zest (peel) and wine. Keep stirring. Add the vegetable bouillon. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Add the grated cheese to thicken the remaining liquid and stir this gently until well blended. Continue to simmer on low heat for another 15-20 minutes with the cover off. Check from time to time as it may need stirring. Then, gently stir through the kale and add lemon juice. Keep stirring until the kale has wilted. With the cover on, cook this on very low heat for another 5 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Add salt, pepper and thyme to taste. Let sit for a few minutes with the cover on.


Bon appétit!

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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