Barley Mushroom “Risotto”

This recipe is something I often crave. It’s based on one by Mark Bittman (hail, oh might food man) for a risotto style barley dish. It’s the same slow process as risotto but it’s barley so it’s got even more of a bite to it. I substitute white wine vinegar for the white wine to make it a bit tangier – this came from a mistake my old roommate made that turned out to be delicious. And it just happens to be vegan. For funsies = )

Read on for the recipe and more photos…

Ingredients (makes about 4 main course servings)

12 – 16 oz fresh mushrooms – shittakes and creminis

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dried thyme or 3 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

2 dry bay leaves or 4 fresh bay leaves

1 cup pearled barley

1 tbsp white wine vinegar (or 1/2 cup white wine if you prefer)

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup parmesan, grated (+ more for topping if you’d like when you serve it)


  • Slice mushroom caps and saute in a pan over medium-high heat until soft and browned. You may want to do so in batches to not crowd the pan. Set aside.
  • Bring the 4 cups of stock to a boil and then set to low heat.
  • Put 2 tbsp oil in a large, deep skillet on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, throw the onion in and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the barley and stir so that each particle is coated in the oil and glossy.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and cook for another minute more.
  • Add white wine vinegar and cook until the liquid evaporates.
  • Using a ladle, add 1/2 cup of stock at a time. Only add more liquid when the previous batch of stock has almost completely evaporated. Stir frequently and keep the heat between medium and medium-high.
  • After about 20 minutes, start tasting the barley – you’re going for al dente so it should be tender but still with a bit of a bite to it. Be patient, this could take a while.
  • When it reaches al dente, add the mushrooms and the parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and serve!

I know this is weird but it’s also delicious as a cold leftover – almost like a tangy wheat berry salad!

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    June 2012
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