Mushroom Farro Chili

Truth in advertising – my wife takes issue with calling this a chili but I’m sticking with vegetarian chili anyway.   I’ve been kicking around this idea for quite a while, the combination of mushrooms and farro (or pearled barley) is something I use in stews routinely.  The twist here is the addition of tomato and the Night Kitchen Azteca spice blend (   The final combination gives a rich deeply flavored stew that, at least to my taste, has the essential profile and feel of the best chilis.

This is a deceptively simple preparation that has a tremendous range of use.  The base recipe is given below along with one variation that we made with leftovers.  It’s also flexible in that you can add in any additional combination of vegetables you want to use up ingredients in your pantry or fridge.  The sky is the limit

One last note, I use farro in this recipe but barley or pearled barley are interchangeable and have the same characteristics.  Farro is a hulled wheat kernel that is common in Italian cooking.   The nice thing about using farro/barley is that it is incredibly forgiving.  The farro absorbs liquids and softens with cooking but doesn’t get mushy.


Mushroom Farro Chili

1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped finely

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 15oz can crushed tomato

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons Night Kitchen Azteca Blend

1 cup farro (barley or pearled barley can be substituted)

2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

salt to taste

Sauté the onions and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and the onions are clear.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Clear a spot in the center of the pan and brown the tomato paste for ~1 minute.  Add the Azteca spice blend and barley, toss together until the barley is coated.  Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until the barley is cooked through.

Salt to taste.  Serve over rice topped with a little smoked cheese, cilantro or parsley, and sour cream.  You can also use the chili as a stuffing for green chili peppers.  Or… if you are looking for a great brunch dish…


Shakshuka – the Night Kitchen twist.

Shakshuka is an egg dish, most likely from Tunisia or Yemen.  At its heart, it is an egg poached in a tomato and chili based sauce served with bread.  There are almost an infinite number of different versions of this out there.  Using leftover Mushroom Farro Chili and some farm fresh eggs turned out to be a great way to use up leftovers.

In a 10″ wide sauté pan that has a lid, reheat ~4 cups of the Mushroom Farro Chili.  If it is a bit thick (farro or barley has a tendency to soak up all available moisture and flavor) thin it out some with additional vegetable stock.  Once the chili bubbling, turn the heat down to a simmer.  Create 4 small wells in the surface of the chili with the back of a spoon.  Crack a farm fresh egg into each well.  Cover and allow to simmer for 6-7 minutes or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.

Spoon out a generous amount of the chili and an egg into a bowl, top with a little grated cheese (I recommend a smoked gruyere if you can find it), finish with a little salt and black pepper.

Serves 4 (or 2 for dinner).

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