I know the holidays are all about treating yourself but I still need my veggies. Yes, I'm that person that makes sure that there are at least two vegetable sides in addition to the main course. They don't have to be particularly the healthiest vegetable side. But if they happen to be healthy and delicious, who's complaining? This warm mushroom kale farro salad is the perfect example of a lighter side that's still wonderfully flavorful. In fact, I imagine myself enjoying this warm salad year-round.
Warm Mushroom Kale Farro Salad
- 1 cup farro
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons oil divided
- 1 lb cremini mushrooms sliced
- 4 shallots sliced
- 3 cups shredded lacinto kale
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon sumac
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan
- 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Combine farro with water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and farro is tender. Let sit for 5 minutes, remove lid, and fluff with a fork. Keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup olive oil with sliced garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until garlic is golden brown. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil on papertowels. Let cool.
- Reserve infused garlic oil; you should still have almost ¼ cup. Combine sherry vinegar with honey and mustard in a medium bowl. Slowly add garlic oil, whisking constantly until well combined. Season sherry vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may have to cook mushrooms in batches. Continue to cook until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add shallots and season with salt. Continue to cook until shallots are browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes. If the pan gets too dry add 1-2 tablespoons water.
- Add another tablespoon oil to the same pan and add chopped kale with the shallots. Continue to cook until kale is softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add cooked farro, mushrooms, parsley, basil, red chili flakes, sumac, and sherry vinaigrette, tossing until well combined. Cook for another minute or until warm.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and top with shaved parmesan, toasted pinenuts, and crispy garlic. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The inspiration behind this warm mushroom kale farro salad was a rice stuffing I used to make for Thanksgiving. It was a simple rice dish with sauteed mushrooms and herbs. It's good but pretty basic. So I decided to jazz up that old recipe, adding a bright sherry vinaigrette, caramelized shallots, sumac, and shaved parmesan. We're all about building flavors here people.
I chose farro as the grain because of its complex nutty flavor and chewy texture. It pairs beautifully with the earthy meaty mushrooms and slightly bitter kale. However, if you're not a fan of farro you can use a wild rice blend, barley, or brown rice.
Cook the farro in water until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Then, fluff the grains with a fork and set them aside, keeping them warm.
While the farro is cooking, heat oil with thinly sliced garlic. Continue to simmer the oil until the garlic turns golden brown. They will continue to darken in color so don't wait too late before removing them from the oil.
Remove the garlic chips and reserve them for garnish, while reserving the remaining garlic-infused oil. We're going to utilize the garlic oil to make a delicious sherry garlic vinaigrette.
Whisk together sherry vinegar with honey and dijon mustard. Then, slowly add the garlic oil while whisking constantly. Season the dressing with salt and pepper and set it aside. You can make the garlic chips and dressing the day before if you prefer.
Next, cook sliced mushrooms until browned on both sides. I used cremini mushrooms but you can use any mushroom variety you like. Chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, and shiitakes would all work wonderfully in this dish. No matter the type of mushroom, just make sure not to overcrowd the pan otherwise the vegetables will steam rather than caramelize.
Remove the mushrooms and set them aside. In the same pan, saute shallots until they turn a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. If the pan becomes too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
Add the chopped kale to the same pan and saute until wilted. If the pan becomes too dry again, go ahead and add another splash of water.
Add back the mushrooms and farro to the pan along with the sherry vinaigrette and seasonings, and toss until well combined.
The warm mushroom kale farro salad is delicious as is but we want to build even more flavor. To do this, we're going to top the salad with garlic chips, toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan, and a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper.
I can honestly say, If my holiday table had only this salad and a protein, I would be perfectly happy. The warm mushroom kale salad has so many complex flavors that it's a star dish on its own. You can bet I'll be digging into this dish in the summer!
For more mushroom dishes, check out this mushroom and rice chicken soup!