Farro Vegetable Casserole

Farro, Cheese, zucchini, cannellini beans

You may have noticed by now that I like Farro. I am always trying to come up with new ways to serve it. My family likes casserole dishes because they are all-in-one meals, and easy to eat.  So I decided to create a casserole using Farro as the star.

This farro vegetable casserole is packed with flavor. It has everything that you could want.  The nutty flavor of the farro, combined with the vegetables, cannellini beans, and melted mozzarella cheese will delight your taste buds. It is truly a comfort food without all the guilt.

1  1/2 – cups farro
1 – red bell pepper
10 -oz. white mushrooms
3 – cups diced zucchini
1 – can cannellini beans
1 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/3 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 – tsp. black pepper
1/2 – cup pecorino romano
2 – cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 – cup chicken broth

Cook the farro according to package directions, but do not over cook (be sure to add salt to the water). When the farro is ready, drain and place it in a medium sized baking dish, and add a little olive oil and the chicken broth so it does not stick together.

While the farro is cooking, dice the red bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and onion, and peel the garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook on a medium-low flame about 2 minutes until the garlic starts to brown. Now add the diced vegetables and season with the salt, black pepper, oregano, Herbs de Provence and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

When the vegetables are ready it is time to assemble the casserole. Add to the farro in the baking dish the pecorino romano cheese and 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese, and mix well. Next, add the cannellini beans (drain first) and sautéd vegetables. Stir to distribute the vegetables evenly.

Top off the casserole with the remaining grated mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, until the cheese starts to become golden brown.

Serves 6

Buon appetito!

Beef Stroganoff


Beef Stroganoff is the perfect dish for a cold winter’s day. My mother used to make this dish, and it was always one of the family favorites. She used cream of mushroom soup in her recipe, but I have made my version without it. The combination of the beef and vegetables in a savory sauce gives you a warm, satisfying feeling. Give it a try, it’s delicious!

1 – lb. sirloin
3 – large carrots
1 – cup diced onion
2 – garlic cloves
8 – oz. package of white mushrooms
1 – cup diced cremini mushrooms
2 – tbls. canola oil
1/2 – cup white wine
1 – 14.5 oz. can beef stock (low sodium)
2 – rounded tbls. flour
1 – tbls. Worchestershire sauce
1 – tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 – cup sour cream
Ground black pepper
1 – 12 oz. package of wide egg noodles
1 -tbls. butter

Put a large pot of water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and add the noodles.  Cook according to the package directions.  I suggest you keep the water simmering until the stroganoff is about 10 minutes from being finished, then cook the noodles.  Once cooked, drain the noodles and place them in a bowl and mix through one tablespoon of butter to keep the noodles from sticking.  Put aside until the stroganoff is ready.

In the meantime, prepare all the ingredients. Trim the fat off the sirloin steak and cut into one inch pieces. Peel and cut the carrots into 1/2″ pieces. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and cut into 1/2″ pieces. Dice the onion and peel the garlic.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. Season the sirloin with salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and sirloin and cook until browned on both sides, then remove it to a bowl and set aside (leaving the garlic in the pan).


Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, and cook until it reduces by about half, about 1-2 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water (about 3 tablespoons), stirring until smooth. Add the beef broth to the vegetable mixture, then add the cornstarch mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Add the Worchestershire sauce and Dijon mustard, mix well. Return the beef to the skillet and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


As it cooks, the sauce will thicken and the meat will become tender.  At this point add in the sour cream.


Mix through and let simmer about 2 minutes.


Serve over noodles.

Makes 4-5 servings.


Bruschetta 3 Ways


Bruschetta is a simple and versatile appetizer to make for any dinner party or holiday gathering. You can use what ever ingredients you like…vegetables, cheese, beans, prosciutto or other cured meats. The only secret is to use good ingredients. Here are three easy ideas for you to try.

1 – loaf of French baguette or crusty long loaf of Italian bread
2 – cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil

Bruschetta #1: Tomato and Basil:

2 – medium ripe tomatoes
1/2 – medium shallot
7 – fresh basil leaves
1 – tbls. fresh parsley
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 – tbls olive oil


Dice the tomatoes. I suggest dicing them by hand so they maintain their texture. Place the diced tomatoes in a medium sized bowl. Add finely diced shallot and chopped basil. You can stack the basil leaves together, roll them, and then chop them all at once. This makes it a little easier to do.  Next chop the parsley and add to the tomatoes.  Drizzle the olive oil and add salt and black pepper to taste.  Mix and set aside until ready to use.

Slice the bread on a diagonal, about 1/2″ thick. Place under broiler or toaster oven until lightly golden brown. Do not leave the bread unattended, because it will toast very quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, and take a peeled clove of garlic and rub it on the surface of the warm toasted bread. Brush olive oil over the bread and top with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

Bruschetta #2: Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Honey

4 – oz. Goat cheese
4 – oz. raw walnuts


Toast the walnuts (the quickest method is on the stove). Do not chop the nuts. Place them in a dry, heavy skillet on a medium flame. Cook them about 2 minutes until they start to brown. Stir constantly so that they do not burn.  Set aside until ready to use them.

Slice the bread on a diagonal, about 1/2″ thick. Place under broiler or toaster oven until lightly golden brown. Do not leave the bread unattended, because it will toast very quickly under the broiler. Remove the bread from the oven, and spread the goat cheese directly on top while the bread is still warm. Place two or three pieces of walnut on top of the goat cheese, and then drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.

Bruschetta #3: Cremini Mushrooms and Red Bell Pepper:

1 – red bell pepper
1 – medium shallot
10 – oz. cremini mushrooms
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/4 – tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth and slice in quarters (more if mushroom is large). Slice the red pepper in half and remove the stem and seeds then make 1/4″ slices. Heat 1 tbls. of olive oil in a large skillet and add the peppers. Cook about 2-3 minutes until they just start to soften. Dice the shallot and add to the peppers along with the mushrooms. Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown and the onions soften. It will take about 6-7 minutes on a medium flame. Stir often to avoid them sticking to the pan.

Prepare the bread in the same manner as for Bruschetta #1.

Buon appetito

Mushroom Barley Soup

mushroom-barley-soupMushroom barley soup was not something that I grew up eating, but I love it. This recipe is one that I created one evening when I did not know what else to make. I searched through my pantry and refrigerator and started throwing ingredients together. I am always looking for ways to add protein to my semi-vegetarian meals so I added the cannellini beans. They go perfectly with the soup and make it a complete nutritious meal. Serve with some crusty Italian bread and enjoy!


1 – 8 oz. pkg. of white mushrooms
1 – 8 oz. pkg. of cremini mushrooms
3 – cloves garlic
Soffritto (dice by hand so they have some texture)
1 – 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 – 10.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
32 – oz. chicken stock (preferably organic; vegetable stock may be substituted if you want to keep it vegetarian)
2/3 – cup barley
1/2 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flakes
2 – tbls. extra virgin olive oil


Prepare the soffritto, add it to a large stock pot and sauté in a little canola oil until it starts to caramelize. Peel the garlic and smash them with the side of a large knife and add to the soffritto. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms clean and cut them into 4-6 pieces depending on the size of the mushroom. Add the diced mushrooms to the soffritto and sauté about 5 minutes.

Rinse the barley and drain. Add it raw to the mushroom mixture along with the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir together and cook an additional 2 minutes then add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes.

Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 25 minutes until the barley is cooked. Once the barley is cooked, drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soup. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffed-mushrooms, Italian sausageStuffed Mushrooms with Italian Sausage

Stuffed mushrooms are a great appetizer for any dinner party or holiday gathering. They are easy to make and delicious. In this recipe, I use italian sausage to give them that extra special flavor, but it is not necessary. You can leave out the sausage if you want to make them vegetarian.



20 – oz. medium/large white mushrooms
1/2 – cup seasoned bread crumbs (you can also use store bought)
1/8 – cup pecorino romano cheese
1/3 – lb. italian sausage
1/8 – cup olive oil
2 – tbls. fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste (optional)
Soffritto – make 1/2 the recipe and add 1 clove garlic and half of the mushroom stems. Mince all together in a food processor.
Extra virgin olive oil


Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth, then cut the dry end of the stem off and remove the remaining stem from the mushroom. This leaves a nice cavity for the stuffing.  Add half of the stems to the soffritto.  After you prepare the soffritto, sauté it in 1 tbls. olive oil for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the soffritto with a little salt and black pepper.

Heat a little canola oil in a small skillet, and in the meantime, remove the sausage from its casing and add to the skillet. Break it up with a fork into crumbles and cook until no longer pink.

Mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Be careful not to add too much salt if you are using store bought bread crumbs.  Add the sautéed soffritto and the cooked sausage.  Drizzle olive oil and mix thoroughly until the breadcrumbs are moist enough to stick together.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the mushrooms on top. Brush a little olive oil over the mushrooms and sprinkle with a little salt.  Over fill the mushrooms with the stuffing so that it forms a rounded peak.

Over-filled mushrooms

Bake in a pre-heated 400o oven for 20-25 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is golden brown.

Serve immediately.