Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

The September edition of BH&G came in the mail the other day.

It’s the Stylemaker issue.

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to excite and giddify me. I’m probably supposed to be eagerly anticipating the next great inspiration for the mantle I don’t have.

I think “they” expect that I’ll be all amped up and ready to do something great and colorful to my “space” with paint, because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to do any and all things wonderful to said space.

But I was born with a decorating defect, because all it did was make me feel like hyperventilating and scavenging for chocolate covered espresso beans.

Oh. And screaming too. It made me do lots of internal screaming as my blood pressure blew past the stratosphere.

I kept flipping pages faster and faster, frantically hoping to find other things. Food things. “Dear God, where is the flipping food?! Where are the recipes?!”

Lawd help me.

I am not a de-coh-rah-toor.

This is so much more my speed (If you ♥ Anthropologie and a good snort-laugh, this is a must-read. Be forewarned though – there’s an eensie bit of swearing that takes place.) because I am a Boho gal at heart. It must be because I’m totes ok with throwing a bunch of nonsense together and calling it good.

We’ve lived in our house for 12+ years. . . .

I’ve re-arranged the furniture . . . once.

Basically, I’ve thrown it together and called it good for one big, fat, swollen decade.

I’ve been thinking about making changes. Things I’d like to do. It’s just that actually doing them. Well, now. That takes thought. And know-how. And work.

Oh. And money. It takes money.

And what’s that other thing it requires? Ooooooh. Yeah. Time.

It takes time. Which I obviously have, because I’m wisely stewarding my spare minutes reading magazines that make me hyperventilate (sarcasm intended).

And then, I started reading this. Because I quickly skim Nesting Place on a fairly regular basis.

Mostly I look at the pictures, and read if something captures my attention.

I’ve noticed she has a book out now though, and I’ve been curious about it, just not $18-ship-it-to-my-door curious. (Reminder: the prospect of interior-design, by me, for my own home, plagues me with nervous sprints to the bathroom.)

BUT, and mine’s a big one, Amazon was running a crazy-good special on the Kindle version, and all of a sudden, it sounded fun (like bungee jumping or sky-diving fun, which, c’mon – can’t really be fun, but it’s a challenge and when you’re done, if you’re not dead, you can be like, HEEEEY!!! I JUST SKY DIVED AND DIDN’T DIE! I’M AWESOME!! . . . AND ALSO, I’M NOT DEAD!!)

So I jumped.

Or dove.


And I now  ♥ her book and her style.

Let me show you why:

“Imperfection is a sign of maturity.” (Hallelujah! I’m a Golden Girl in that case!!)

“Housekeeping done incorrectly still blesses the family.” (quote via The Fly Lady, Marla Cilley in her book, Sink Reflections) Oh, yes! I am a blessing fiend!!

“At times, good enough and done is a smarter choice than perfect. . . ” (Amen, Sister.)

“. . . if a neighbor walked in and saw a trail of mud, I wouldn’t need to be embarrassed. It’s just proof of lives being lived, and houses are for living. My home is a reflection of our life, and life’s messes can be gloriously beautiful.” (Ahhhh. I’m breathing without a bag.)


The amazing thing, Friends, is that it’s awakened my dormant and gun-shy decorating bug – with a tickle of excitement instead of a looming cloud of doom.

I’m debating.

I’m debating about showing you my “space”.

Maybe a before and after.

And the budget.

But this is a food blog – (well, sometimes other stuff too, but mostly food) –  and is that cool, or annoying?

Hmmm. Tell me, do. (Then hand me a brown paper bag!!)

Baby steps, Folks. Baby steps.Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl 2 550 b

And food.

Back to food, because, like I said *ahem*, this blog is mostly about food.

So, we have a salad bowl today.

A salad to bring us back to our senses and balance out the decorating-panic-induced chocolate covered espresso bean binge.

We have farro, which might be my new whole grain bestie.

Why did it take me so long to try you, Farro? You’re so good, it’s like you could be Egyptian royalty or something. Wait a minute. . . .

We have crisp-edged, oven roasted, thyme and oregano mushrooms snuggied up with red onions (which turn so crispy and delicious they might give bacon a run for their money. #forreals.)

We have feta cheese.

And we have avocado. What I really wanted to call this dish was, “Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl Plus Avocado Because Always and Everywhere All Things Are Better with Avocado”.

But I thought that title was too wordy.


I made this with a creamy avocado dressing too, which – don’t get me wrong – kind of made my eyes roll as far back as they could reach with yum!!, but it’s totally not a deal breaker if you don’t have time. I’d say a splash of good olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, plus a crack of pepper and pinch of salt would be just as good to top this bowl off.

And bonus – these components, stored separately, keep really well for multiple lunches later in the week. Like 3 days in a row. Because you won’t get tired of this and you’ll be counting down the minutes till lunch time.

My friend said to me one time, “What do vegetarians even eat?!”

This. They eat stuff like this. And then they high-five each other for mushrooms well roasted.

Who needs meat when you have exciting little salad bowls parked and waiting in your fridge for you at 11:59 AM?

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 salads

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

This salad is full of pleasing flavors and textures. I've written the recipe to serve 4 - so share it with your family and friends, or save it for lunches throughout the week. With a glass of wine, it'd make for a nice light dinner to come home to after a busy day as well. Keep leftovers as separate components in sealed containers, and refrigerate for up to three days.


  • 3/4 cup dry Farro
  • For the Mushrooms:
  • 1 8oz package sliced button or baby portabello mushrooms
  • 1/3 medium red onion, sliced thin (vertically)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • Splash of dry white wine (optional)
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 of a fresh, soft Hass avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
  • 2-4 teaspoons water (as much as you want to thin dressing to desired consistency)
  • Additional ingredients for the Salad
  • about 8 cups Arugula or other salad greens
  • 3/4 avocado, sliced thinly, lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silpat mat (silpat will give you crispier edges on your mushrooms).

Prepare the Farro according to package directions.

Meanwhile, For the Mushrooms:

In a large bowl, toss the sliced mushrooms and onions with the olive oil. Use enough oil so the mushrooms are evenly coated. Add in fresh herbs, salt, and wine. Toss again. Spread mushrooms and onions out evenly over parchment-lined (or silpat-lined) baking sheet. (Make sure there is room between your veggies - space is what allows them to crisp as they roast, instead of steam to soft oblivion.) Bake mushrooms for 20-30 minutes. If necessary, remove onions first, so they don't burn. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.

For the Dressing:

To a small food processor, (I used a Magic Bullet), add all ingredients except the water. Blend for about 30 seconds. Check for consistency, add desired amount of water. Blend again. Check for taste and adjust accordingly. (If you don't have a small food processor or Magic Bullet, I'm guessing you could use a sumbersion blender here, or just mash the avocado as finely as possible, then whisk the ingredients together with lots of elbow grease!)

To Assemble the Salad:

Place 2 cups of arugula on each of 4 plates.

Divide farro, mushrooms, and avocado evenly among the 4 plates.

Add 2 tablespoons of crumbled Feta cheese to each plate.

Drizzle with avocado dressing and serve.


Sara| Home is Where the Cookies Are


Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Let’s chat for a moment, you and me.

Let’s talk about diets and binges, too much birthday cake, and climbing back on the wagon. Continue reading

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

My first apple pie of the year dive-bombed into an epic fail the other day.

What was supposed to be a mouth-watering concoction of baked caramely apples dotted with cherry-cranberry compote all wrapped up in a buttery, flaky crust, manifested instead as a major mess in an under-cooked, too small crust.

Like I said.

Continue reading

Raspberry, Goat Cheese, and Basil Quinoa Salad

Let me introduce Raspberry Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad; otherwise known as:

“The Salad My Family Will. Never. Eat.”

Quinoa is a bit of an anomaly in our house.

Anomaly? Maybe not, as I think about it.

Probably more like. . .


Each family member has made varied suggestions on how we might put it to use – all of which do not include eating it.

Examples include: Continue reading

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder {light}

There are few meals in life more comforting than soup.

(I would count intravenous sugar and chocolate fudge among those few – and yes, I realize I referred to these as “meals”).

That’s just the truth.

And a soup that starts and ends with bacon?

I don’t even need to say it. Continue reading

Pesto-mole Crostini

At first, I didn’t know what to call this green mash – that is, until my husband called it “pesto-mole”, and I kinda liked the idea.

Before he dubbed it that, I was thinking, “smashed peas and avocado with basil, garlic, and parmesan”.

His name has a better ring to it.

I could call it, “Mom’s Quick Escape” dinner. . . .

Because that’s where the whole idea was born – my Grandma and the dinner she would lay out for her four kids, decades ago, as she hustled around the house readying herself for a night out dancing with Grandpa.

I’ve heard my mom talk about these dinners. It takes close to all the self control she can muster to keep herself from gagging as she recalls the most popular item on the quick-escape menu: smashed cream peas on toast, with a side of mac and cheese.

The main dish involved smashed canned peas and canned cream of something soup.

What didn’t involve canned things in those days? It was the Nineteen Fifties.

I can’t point any judging fingers at Grandma.

I can feel her desire to breeze out that front door on a Friday night to find herself, within minutes, being whisked across a dance floor, quick-stepping her slight little self into the world of grown-ups.

I totally get her willingness to smash brown-ish canned foods together to make a meatless edible-spreadable that counts as dinner.

I can feel her giddiness in the morning as she rolled her long glossy hair into tight curlers and wore them around in anticipation all day long.

I can feel her resolve as her kids might have bickered and complained and stomped around the house at the unfairness of having to do chores, or homework, or shovel snow.

I can imagine the aloof, “Go ahead and pout kiddos – I’m fine with that, because in a few short hours, I will be happily dancing my feet off with a beautiful bouncy coif.”

I can see the kids’ eyebrows raise as they admire their pretty Mamma when she emerges from her room that night in a straight little pencil skirt and a fancy top that only made it out on date-nights.

The table was set, and dinner was served.

Young Gram and Gramp sailed out the door.

My mom’s biggest brother sat smugly in Grandpa’s chair at the dining table, as biggest siblings often do when left in charge.

Her biggest sister sat equally as smug across from him – as second-older siblings often do when left second in charge.

The next younger brother and my mom sat sandwiched between smug older siblings, across from each other.

When that front door closed behind Grandma and Grandpa, the kids watched their parents through the picture window as they picked a safe way through the falling snow to their car. . . and something changed the smugness in big brother’s eyes to mischief.

He plopped a dab of smashed peas on his spoon, delicately balanced it perpendicular on his knife, counted down, and launched it across the room.

It splattered on the wall.

The siblings sat with wide deer-eyes, gaping at the assailed wall and the offending supposedly-in-charge brother.


And then, frantically, they all loaded their spoons and flung smooshed peas and cooked macaroni everywhere, EVERYWHERE, in a macaroni and split pea firing frenzy that left them breathless and ogling three walls, a picture window, and a whole ceiling blasted with brownish-green mash and sticky pasta.

Then, all at once, the barrage was over. The ammo was gone. Their dinner was spent and decorating the room. They giggled and sighed, wiping tears away from their laughing eyes and sat back to admire their work – all at once realizing they had to clean it.

They wiped and scrubbed and cleaned and scurried till it was all gone.

No evidence.

And settled in to sleep for the night.

Not a boo was said about it.

Gram and Gramp never noticed. . . until it was time for spring cleaning, that is.

My mom and her sister were on hands and knees in the kitchen, peeling wax off the linoleum floor. Grandma was on tiptoe on top of the dining room table, reaching up to clean the hanging light in the center of the room. If they tried, they could all see each other through a half-wall that separated the two rooms, but they weren’t trying.

They could hear each other. The sisters worked silently, eyes on the floor, building up a sweat and sore arms as they scraped at the wax.

Then they heard Grandma.

“What on earth?”

The girls stop and look at each other.

Grandma continued, “How did this get here?? Maccaroni in the light?!” not a bit of anger in her voice, just pure, baffled wondering.

Big sister silently motioned with wide eyes to Little Sis, “Not a word!!” she said with her sharp finger to her lips. My mom clamped her mouth shut and scrubbed harder.

All three ladies continued working – the months-old macaroni in the dining room light fixture forever a mystery to my grandma.


So this bright green fresh mash of peas and avocado is an ode to my mom. To give her a meal of toast and smashed peas that tempts growling tummies and whets taste buds instead of tripping the gag reflex.

It’s fresh and bright, sweet and salty, and there is no canned soup involved.

Have it as lunch, an appetizer, or add a salad and make it a light summertime dinner – but please, just don’t fling it on the wall.



  • 1 ripe, but firm, avocado - peeled, pitted, and sliced in quarters
  • 1/4 cup fresh, or frozen and thawed, sweet peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for optional drizzling)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided in half
  • Toasted baguette slices and extra slices of Parmesan for serving


In a medium bowl, combine avocado, peas, Parmesan, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or fork to desired consistency. Fold in basil and 2 tablespoons walnuts.

Toast baguette slices.

Top each slice of toasted baguette with a generous helping of avocado mixture, sprinkle with some of the remaining walnuts and add some extra Parmesan slices. Drizzle with extra olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, if desired.




Oh! And PS – I almost forgot – this is a fantastic way to store your pesto-mole, or guacamole so it doesn’t go brown. Seal it up tight by rolling it in plastic wrap,  carefully eliminating air bubbles. When you’re ready to use it, just unfold one end, and squeeze it out – like toothpaste (except tastier).

Stuffed French Toast

You know how “they” advise that, if you want to be fashionable,  you should mix and match when selecting your outfit for the day? As in: mix and match expensive, fancy stuff with less expensive, less impressive stuff – so your outfit inspires interest and intrigue? So, maybe you’d wear a $10 T-shirt with a $50 scarf, mix and match the rest of the outfit, and top it off with $200 shoes and a $5 cocktail ring?

(I have yet to dress myself in every-day attire that totals $265. . . .)

This french toast is sort of like that outfit:

  • Artisan bread = $75 skinny jeans
  • Goat cheese = $180 shimmery blouse
  • Center cut bacon = $60 bauble necklace
  • Granny Smith apples = $ 10 earings
  • Fresh scallions = $20 bangles
  • Fresh ground pepper = $10 go-to body spray
  • Aunt Jemima Maple Flavored syrup? = $20 adorable Payless shoes that make the outfit.

OK, so shoot me. I love Aunt Jemima syrup.

Continue reading

Greek Diced Veggie Salad

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Binge on sweets (i.e. Orange Cream Bundt Cake), wax vegetarian for a couple of days.

Sweets, veggies. Sweets, veggies.

With some “pro-tine” in between.

It’s a balancing act, and I’m alright with it.

This is a pretty salad, isn’t it?

You know what would make it even prettier?

Deep purple kalamata olives.

Which happen to be my favorite part of the salad.

And which I didn’t happen to notice I forgot until I was eating my photo subject.

Darn it!

Just imagine them there and appreciate how pretty and delicious they would be.

And enjoy a “recovery” meal with me.

Sometimes, to make this salad heartier, I’ll add some white beans and serve it with a crusty baguette.

What you put on your baguette, obviously, is up to you.

Butter is always an excellent option, but maybe – if you’re really posing as a healthster – you want to mash up some avocado with garlic and salt and schmear your carbs with deliciously healthy green mash instead.

Just a suggestion.

Either way, this is a delightful route out of elastic and back into button-up pants.


Greek Diced Veggie Salad


1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 vine ripened (medium) tomato, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed and diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
4-5 Kalamata olives, seeded and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese

optional greens: romaine lettuce, spinach, spring greens. . . dark and leafy.

Add all ingredients, except feta, to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine well. Spoon diced veggie salad over a bed of greens and top with crumbled feta.

Source: Slightly adapted from: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Herbed Yogurt Cheese – DIY

I will admit, the first time I heard the term “yogurt cheese”, I wasn’t exactly intrigued. Not repulsed either, but it elicited more of an “Eww!” from my senses than an “Ooo!”

It took a good five or six exposures for me to regard it with any kind of interest.

When it occurred to me – finally – that it was similar to cream cheese – THAT was when it started to sound tempting.

Continue reading