Shiitakes in red wine sauce with farro and asparagus

Everyone loves a hearty meat & potatoes dish. So how glorious is it that we can achieve that same decadence without using meat? For the days you want to eat like a true Royal Highness, try these sautéed shiitake mushrooms over a bed of herb roasted asparagus and farro. Pair with a high-tannin Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Dish

Why are shiitake mushrooms a perfect meat replacement? Because they are a prime example of umami deliciousness. Umami is that taste of savoriness we get from meats, aged cheeses, various gravies, and of course, mushrooms. This makes them the plant-based savior for those days you’re looking for “meatiness” on your palate.

The plating may make this dish look inimidating, but I promise it’s actually a very simple recipe. I like to keep the shiitakes whole for a nice, aesthetically pleasing disk shape that can be reminiscent of steak medallions. You can use thyme or rosemary in the sauce, up to you. This is the kind of dish you can have fun with. Tailor the sauce and seasonings to your preferences. Roast the asparagus to the firmness that suits your fancy. This is the kind of cooking that is encouraged by sipping on a glass of wine while you embrace the flow.

Even meat lovers appreciate the flavorful power of these fun guys (pun totally intended). The heartiness of shiitake mushrooms is highlighted in the episode of Chef’s Table featuring Jeong Kwan, the vegan monk chef. She gave her father shiitakes boiled in soy sauce when he complained about the lack of meat at the monastery.  After eating them, not only were his concerns gone but he said to his daughter, “This is better than meat.”

The Wine

The perfect wine to pair this dish would be a high-tannin Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mushrooms and Cabernet: alone both are good, but together they are magical.  A Cab can have a grippy, gum-drying mouthfeel, but this is instantly mellowed by the umami of mushrooms.  At the same time the wine creates a more interesting and complex flavor with the mushrooms.

Flavors are truly transformed into something next-level and more complex with this duo.  Shiitakes are known for being a particularly “meaty” plant food which makes them perfect for pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon and replicating that “steak and potatoes” classic. For a better understanding of why certain foods pair well with specific wines, click here to read my post about pairing guidelines.)

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Shiitakes in red wine sauce with farro and asparagus

  • Author: Sydney
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Vegan, Vegetarian, Plant-Based
  • Cuisine: American


Sautéd shiitake mushrooms with farro and roasted asparagus in a buttery and thyme-y red wine sauce.  Umami, “meaty” dish for a Meatless Monday dinner. 



For the shiitakes, farro, and asaparagus:

  • 4 cups Shiitake mushrooms (or roughly 8 ‘shrooms for 8 medallions per person) 
  • 1/2 cup Farro
  • Vegetable Broth (10 points to Gryffindor for homemade!)
  • Asparagus
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Butter (vegan butter if shooting for dairy-free)

For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 Yellow or white onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups dry red wine (make it 3, so you can sip on it while cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon honey (sub agave syrup for a vegan option)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Pre-heat over to 420 degrees.  
  2. Prepare asparagus by chopping off the tough ends (about 1/2″ or so from the bottom).  Toss the asparagus in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and place on a lined baking sheet to roast for about 30 minutes, or until there is a nice browning happening.
  3. Bring 1 cup of vegetable broth to boil.  Add 1/2 cup of farro and reduce to a simmer.  Let cook for about 20 minutes until soft but chewy.
  4. While the farro and asparagus are cooking, prepare to sauté the shiitakes by slicing off the stems.  Toss in olive oil and a dash of salt.  Let them cook in a oiled pan at medium heat.  

For the sauce:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a pan at medium-high heat and cook the onion until golden. 
  2. Add the 2 cups of dry red wine, thyme, and honey (or agave).
  3. Pour yourself the third cup of wine. Swirl, sniff, sip, enjoy.
  4. Let the sauce reduce for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add two cups of vegetable broth and allow it to reduce down to about 1/1.5 cups. 
  6. Slowly add in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, stirring constantly to maintain consistency of the sauce.
  7. Let it reduce while all of the other items are cooking.


  1. Plate the farro first. 
  2. Drape some roasted asparagus next to or over the pile of farro.
  3. Portion out your shiitake medallions on top.
  4. Ladle a generous couple of spoonfuls of sauce over it all.
  5. Pour yourself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and that’s that.

Keywords: Shiitakes, Shiitake Steaks, Meatless Monday, Red Wine Sauce, Cabernet Sauvignon, Farro, Asparagus, Vegan, Vegetarian, Plant-Based


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