IMG_4668Though summer is usually a time for cold and cleansing salads, we’ve had a deep “June Gloom” in L.A. this year and were craving something warm and hearty…but still fresh and skinny.  And here’s a recipe that uses a super healthy grain and makes it even better (and skinnier) by adding in a greater amount of nutrient-rich and almost calorie-free vegetables: Farro with Kale, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Onions.

And before those of you who are scared of carbs panic because farro is a species of wheat (called emmer), let me tell you why–unless you have celiac disease–it doesn’t matter…rawfarro

Not all carbs are created equal. Farro, though similar to wheat or brown rice, is a nutty-tasting, protein-packed, and texturally dense ancient grain. Lower in gluten than regular wheat, it’s also loaded with metabolism boosting Vitamin B3 as well as magnesium, zinc and iron and satisfies in a deep way as you’re trimming bread and meat from your diet.


And though a cup of cooked farro has about 300 calories, once mixed with a greater amount of calorie neutral kale, onions and weight loss enhancing mushrooms, as well as some rich and flavorful seasonings, this hearty dish has just 120 calories per cup.


IMG_4673So unless you have a true allergy to gluten, embrace this grainy, green and grand dish anytime you’re wanting something a little more hearty than your average kale salad….

It will fill you up and rev you up as you kick off your June Gloom and swing skinny into summer!



IMG_46351 1/2 c pearled or semi-pearled farro

1 1/2  t kosher salt

4 c chicken or vegetable broth

2 t garlic, minced, grated or passed through a garlic press

IMG_464912-14 c chopped kale leaves, about 2 bunches

(I know it seems like a lot but it will collapse to one third of that amount when heated.  Green Curly Kale or Black Kale, also called Cavolo Nero or Dinosaur Kale, are the varieties I prefer.)

2 t sesame oil, divided

IMG_46522 large onions, sliced

1 1/2 T Seasoned Rice Vinegar

1 1/2 T soy sauce or tamari

1 t grated ginger

IMG_46414-6 c sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, about 3/4 to one pound

(If shiitake mushrooms are too expensive, you can use brown mushrooms, they just need a little more time to cook. I often use a mix of both..adding brown mushrooms a minute after adding the onions so they’ll fully cook down, and adding the super chewy and meaty shiitakes a few minutes later so they’ll briefly heat but won’t shrink.)


rawfarrofarro:garlic:brothPut farro in a dry and large non-stick frying pan and cook on medium high until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 t salt, 4 cups broth and the garlic and bring to a solid boil on high heat.

Reduce heat to medium low and keep at a strong simmer, uncovered, until the pan is almost dry, about 35 minutes.

VegForFarroWhile the farro cooks, prep all of your veggies: Strip the kale leaves from the tough stems, chop and sprinkle with 1/2 t salt and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and give it good massage with your hands until the leaves are soft and shiny.

Slice the onions and toss with the rice vinegar and soy sauce, grate the ginger and slice the mushrooms.

When the farro is almost done, it will get a little noisy as the last of the broth bubbles at the bottom of the pan.  Watch carefully and just before all the broth is gone, turn off the heat so it won’t scorch but toss a bit in the hot pan to cook off the remaining moisture.Set aside in a wide bowl to cool…the remaining moisture will be absorbed or evaporate. Rinse the pan well to remove any sticky starch at the bottom.

onionscookingaddshiitakestoonionsReturn the pan to medium-high heat and coat liberally with cooking oil spray. (Don’t forget to use the oil or the vinegar in the onions will wreak havoc on your non-stick pan.) Add the onions that have been soaking in the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and stir fry on medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. (If using brown mushrooms, add them a minute after the onions so they have time to cook.)

Add the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil, the ginger, and shiitakes and stir another minute to heat the shiitake mushrooms and coat them with flavorful juices.

IMG_4567IMG_4577Add the kale and carefully lift the cooked onions and mushrooms on top of them as you cook them overheat another minute or two. Then, turn off the heat and continue to gently toss until the kale is nicely wilted and everything is coated in the simple sauce. Add all to the resting farro and toss well.  Serve warm, cold or room temperature.


c:upFarroTossedIf you want to make this a dish for a Meatless Monday lunch or supper, add a cup of protein rich shelled edamame when you add the kale. (If using frozen edamame rather than fresh, make sure it is well rinsed and completely thawed before adding.)

For a little more crunch and flavor, add a 1/2 cup of sliced green onions.



Our favorite way to re-purpose this delish dish is to add a fried egg on top for a hearty breakfast!

One egg has about 80 calories …so on top of a cup of this skinny farro dish you are still at 200 calories and will be full for hours!!

baggedkaleTIP: When kale is in season, bring home 2 or 3 bunches instead of one. Strip the leaves from the tough stems, wash and dry in a salad spinner and store in plastic bags with a paper towel to keep moisture at bay, squeezing out excess air.

Kale takes up much less room in the fridge this way and whenever you want to add it to any recipe within a week, it will be ready to go!!

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