Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes: A Great Vegetarian Main Dish

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This savory vegetarian main dish with an easy vegan option remains a favorite recipe for treating our plant-loving family and friends at the holidays. 

That said, we’ve come a loooong way since its original publication in 2010 in providing vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving resources. From the wildly popular Best Vegetarian Gravy to a whole Guide to Vegetarian Thanksgiving, we’ve got you covered.

Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes 780 _ Umami Girl


Seek out semi-pearled farro, which strikes a nice balance between nutritional content and cooking time.

I’m automatically jealous

Some days I get a little jealous of vegetarians. They’re conscientious objectors, which confers a certain measure of instant awesomeness. They can look a pig in the eye, which I bet would come in handy more often than you’d think. Unless they eat nothing but cheese, which is what I would do as a vegetarian, they probably have excellent HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. And if they’re like Umami Boy, maybe they’ve lost 40 pounds or so since they gave up eating meat.

It’s not that I’d want to be a full-grown adult with a weight in the double digits and what I can only assume would be a completely concave bust, but who doesn’t enjoy making a brazen claim of self-achievement from time to time? “I’ve lost 40 pounds!” I’m automatically jealous.

Don’t make vegetarians an afterthought at the holidays

On Thanksgiving, though, I’m not jealous at all. It isn’t so much the turkey flesh itself that sets my mouth a-gleek. But at your average Thanksgiving table, it’s just about everything else. Our two kinds of stuffing contain at least five kinds of meat between them. Some of the best Brussels sprouts are cooked with bacon. And what are mashed potatoes without gravy?

On Thanksgiving, at least where I eat, I think it would be very hard to be vegetarian and not feel like an afterthought.

Warm farro with broccoli and shiitakes

Every year there seem to be one or two more vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table than the year before, so every year I spend a little early-November time thinking about meatless main dishes that pack a serious savory punch. 

Last year’s Acorn Squash Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce went over better than your average turkey can fly. This year, among others, I’m thinking Warm Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes. With mushrooms, soy sauce and parmesan cheese, this is one of the meatiest meatless dishes in recent memory.

Vegetarian main dish serving suggestions

You could serve it spooned into roasted squash halves for a festive presentation or add a cup or two of cooked French lentils to up the protein.

Whatever you do, I think the vegetarians at your table will feel well loved. As long as the carnivores don’t get to it first.

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Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes

This vegetarian farro recipe makes a wonderful Thanksgiving main dish for vegetarians. You can easily make it vegan by omitting the cheese. Serves 4 as a main or 8 as a side.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serves 4


  • 1 cup whole farro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 15 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets (reserve the stems for another use)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (omit to make vegan)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the farro in a medium pot with cold water to cover by an inch. Soak for 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes, drain the soaking water and add fresh water to cover the farro by two inches. Add the salt.
  3. Bring the farro to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the farro is tender but still chewy. Drain.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the mushrooms have reduced substantially in volume, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent the onion and garlic from browning.
  6. Add the broccoli florets, soy sauce and water to the pan.
  7. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is quite tender, 5 to 7 minutes more. (Cook the broccoli only as much as you like it cooked. I prefer this dish without any hint of crunch.)
  8. Remove the lid and cook one minute more to reduce any remaining liquid to just a few tablespoons.
  9. Off the heat, add the drained farro and the parmesan cheese to the pan. Stir well and season to taste with pepper. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 360 Total Fat:: 11.8g Carbohydrates:: 53.4g Fiber:: 14.2g Protein:: 16.3g

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  1. Jennifer

    I haven’t tried farro before but have had my eye out for a delicious recipe using it. Can’t wait to try this! That lasagna looks really good too!

  2. Layla, if you’ve got a regular blender, that works too. xx

  3. The recipe sounds yummy. I didn’t like broccoli growing up, but now I love it. It is so healthy (and not one of the dirty dozen that need to be organic). I will definitely try this recipe in the next few days before Thanksgiving!

    Btw, love the kitchen countertop. Very simple and clean looking, but not boring.

  4. Layla

    Fantastic – I signed up for 2 sides this Thanksgiving and I think it will be this one, and last year’s cream-braised brussels sprouts (huge hit)! Have printed out your leek soup from last week but need an immersion blender.

  5. Leslie, I think this would be equally good with the cheese simply left out. It’s a bit of overkill, to be honest. Not that I shy away from that sort of thing…. And I am sorry to hear about your cholesterol!

    Corrina, what kind of gravy is it? I’m a big fan of mushroom gravy when there are no meat juices in question.

  6. The Rowdy Chowgirl

    Forget Thanksgiving, I’m making this for myself!

  7. As a former veghead there are some fabulous side dishes out there. But there is a recipe for a vegan gravy in the book Passionate Vegetarian that is the best gravy I’ve ever had in my entire life – meaty juices or not!

  8. Leslie

    I’m a vegan and have happily enjoyed my personal meals without Turkey for five or six years now. The sides are what does it for me and there are so many to choose from. My biggest problem comes with dealing with an animal carcass on the table meant to feed others.

    I appreciate the almost-vegan recipe and will try this with Soy-mage instead. 🙂

    PS: My cholesterol is still above 300! It’s a bad genes thing, but still.

  9. there is something about the farro nuttines that make it so versatile. Last week I prepare it with aubergines and a lemon vinaigrette. I will try your recipe soon.

    ps. I can imagine how difficult must be to properlu celebrate a Thanksgiving being vegetarian (or celiac). Vegetarians will be very happy with your recipe.

  10. Oh god I’ve been puzzling over what to do about Thanksgiving. I’ve been slowly phasing meat out of my diet, or rather trying to make my consumption of meat be extremely thoughtful, but when the holidays roll around I know I’ll have to throw caution to the wind. I hate the idea of sitting around the table at Thanksgiving and refusing the food that my family eats together. Or maybe I just can’t resist the smell of a freshly roasted turkey with all the fixings.

    Meanwhile that broccoli dish looks awesome. I can’t wait to make it on some non-Thanksgiving night.

  11. Jill

    Sounds fab! We LOVED the lasagne last year… and I’m sure this will be fantastic! & I’m with you on the instant jealousy thing! ;o)

  12. Sounds like a great vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving or any day! Love the nuttiness of farro with mushrooms.