This time of year, when walking in the woods, I generally think about mushrooms, specifically, cooking them. Yet even though morel mushrooms may appear later in the wild, I’m perfectly happy with ordinary white and brown mushrooms available all year in stores everywhere. Inexpensive and seasonless, they have an affinity for really good butter.

Ordinary mushrooms will stay fresh for about a week if you take them out of the carton and put them in a paper bag. Store them in the main compartment of the refrigerator (not in the crisper where it’s too damp). The paper helps absorb excess moisture so they don’t become soggy.

The mistake most people make is in not cooking mushrooms long enough. They need to be sautéed slowly, gently and thoroughly, so their juices pool out and then reduce to a syrupy glaze. With a lick of wine and a few chopped herbs, they are meaty and satisfying, terrific on cooked farro or barley as well as on toast.

Double the batch and use the leftovers next day as the base for mushroom soup (just add stock and cream); toss them with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese; chop them fine for bruschetta or crackers; layer them into grilled cheese sandwiches; scatter them over pizza or focaccia; fold them into an omelet.

Today’s recipe with farro is one of those quick, flavorful dishes that doesn’t require many ingredients or fancy equipment, though a cast-iron skillet is certainly nice.


Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at

Mushrooms on Farro

Serves 4.

Note: Mushrooms, sautéed until meaty and dense, and served on a chewy grain like farro, make a fine meal. You might also toss them with pasta or serve them on a thick piece of toast. From Beth Dooley.

•1 c. uncooked farro or barley

• 2 to 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, or more if needed

• 2 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

• 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or parsley

• 1/2 c. white wine or Marsala or stock

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Parsley or pea shoots for garnish, optional


To cook the grain: Bring 3 cups lightly salted water to a boil and add the farro (or barley). Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the grain is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes for farro (up to 40 minutes for barley). Drain off any excess water before serving.

To cook mushrooms: Heat a wide skillet over medium heat and add the butter, swirling the pan. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the mushrooms and herbs and stir, then cover the pan. Cook until the mushrooms release their juices, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, reduce the heat and continue cooking and stirring gently, until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce, about 2 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve atop the farro, garnished with a few pea shoots or fresh parsley.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 280

Fat 7 g

Sodium 245 mg

Carbohydrates 48 g

Saturated fat 4 g

Added sugars 0 g

Protein 12 g

Cholesterol 15 mg

Dietary fiber 8 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 ½ starch, 1 fat.