Whole grains, like wheat berries, are hearty and flavorful. Wheat berries are whole, unprocessed wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain thus retaining their phytochemicals, known to reduce your risk of cancer. Martha highlights the use of whole wheat berries in a simple, savory big bowl meal.

Farro, or any of the other varieties of whole wheat berries (such as spelt, Kamut, and wheat berries), is a perfect vehicle for my savory Mushroom ragout. The hearty grains stand up to the meaty essence of the mushrooms. The mixture begs for some dark green produce, but nothing too robust, as we already have that with the mushrooms. Spinach is perfect. Chard would also work.

Farro with Mushroom Ragout and Spinach

Makes 6 servings Vegan without the cheese


  • 1 generous bunch spinach (more if desired), stemmed, washed thoroughly in 2 changes of water, and coarsely chopped; or 2 bags of baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup farro, cooked (see instructions below)
  • Mushroom Ragout (see instructions below)
  • 2 to 3 ounces shredded Gruyere or Parmesan cheese (1/2 to 3/4 cup)

Cooking Directions

  1. Steam the spinach for 1 minute, just until it wilts. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Spoon the farro into wide bowls or onto plates. Stir the spinach into the mushroom ragout and spoon onto the grains; or, top the farro with the mushrooms and arrange a clump of cooked spinach on one side or on top. Sprinkle Gruyere or Parmesan over the top and serve hot.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The ragout can be made up to 3 or 4 days before you wish to serve it. Keep it in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on top of the stove. The wheat berries will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator and freeze well. The spinach can be wilted a day or 2 ahead as well and reheated with the olive oil in a small skillet.

How to Prepare Wheat Berries (Farro, Spelt, Kamut)

  1. Place the wheat berries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 1 hour and drain. Alternatively, soak overnight in cold water to cover.
  2. Combine the drained wheat berries and add the salt. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the grains are tender and just beginning to splay at one end, about 50 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and leave the grains to soak and swell further in the cooking water for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain off excess water (set the strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid and add to stocks if desired; it will have a pleasant flavor and a nice texture).
  5. Return the wheat berries to the pot. Cover the pot with a dishtowel, return the lid, and let sit until ready to serve.

Tip:  Cooked wheat berries will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and freeze well.

How to Prepare Ragout

Makes about 4 cups or 6 servings Vegan


  • 1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves (more to taste), minced
  • 1 pound cremini (preferably) or white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound wild mushrooms, trimmed and brushed clean, or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and torn into pieces if very large
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (optional; it helps to create a thicker mixture, but if you’re gluten intolerant just leave it out)
  • 1/2 cup either fruity red wine, such as a Cotes du Rhone, or dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cooking Directions

  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a measuring cup or a bowl and cover with the bowling water. Soak for 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Place a strainer over a bowl, line the strainer with cheesecloth or paper towels, and drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer to extract all the flavorful broth. Then rinse the mushrooms, away from the bowl with the soaking liquid, until they are free of sand. Squeeze dry over the strainer. If very large, chop coarsely. Set aside. Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the mushroom broth and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet or a wide saucepan and add the shallots. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the fresh mushrooms, rosemary and thyme and turn up the heat slightly. Cook until the mushrooms begin to sweat, then add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste. Stir for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat as the mushrooms continue to soften and sweat. Add the flour (if using) and continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring, until they have softened a little more and you can no longer see the flour, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the wine and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the liquid boils down and glazes the mushrooms, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the mushroom soaking liquid, bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and fragrant and the surrounding broth is thick and gravy-like, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in some pepper and the parsley, taste and adjust the salt.

Reprinted with permission of the author

One Comment

  1. / July 3, 2017 at 12:21 pm /Reply

    Can you use something instead of wine?

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