Farro with Wild Mushrooms
One of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes growing up was my mom's Brown Rice. (And let's be honest–it still is!) It's actually not brown rice at all: it's regular white rice that is baked with a can of beef consommé, a can of French onion soup, a can of mushrooms, and a stick of butter. The end result has a golden brown color (thus the name) and a deliciously rich flavor. And the house always smells heavenly while it's in the oven. However, the high levels of fat (from the butter) and the intense levels of sodium (from the canned soups) made me a bit hesitant to make this dish for our Thanksgiving this year.
So I set out to create a healthier version of my childhood favorite. I wanted to make a dish that still had the lovely golden color, intense mushroom flavor, and pleasantly grainy texture as my mom's Brown Rice, but with less fat and sodium. I got to work, substituting farro (a high-fiber Italian grain) for the rice and replacing the canned mushrooms with sautéed fresh mushrooms. I eliminated the cans of soup just added a little white wine, garlic, and fresh thyme for flavor. And rather than butter, I just used a bit of heart-healthy olive oil.
The end result? Definitely different than my mom's original dish, but it was still intensely flavorful–without feeling so heavy. I love the nutty flavor and the chewy texture of the farro, and of course, the fresh mushrooms taste so much better than the canned. I certainly won't turn down my mom's Brown Rice the next time she's making it, but in the meantime, it's nice to have a healthy alternative. I'm actually serving this in lieu of a traditional stuffing at my Thanksgiving dinner this year–hopefully it will be so good that nobody will miss the Brown Rice or the Stove Top![recipe:best-farro-wild-mushrooms-recipe]