Mushroom Barley Risotto

January 24, 2013

I spend part of my lunch break every day on the NPR website, and one of my favorite sections is the Kitchen Window feature.  Every week I pore over the recipes, say to myself, "That looks really good, I should make it" but then I forget by the time Sunday grocery shopping rolls around.  But last night, I finally tried a recipe: Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Manchego, and Thyme.

Since my local grocery store didn't have Manchego cheese and only carried fresh thyme and bay leaves in large packages, I had to improvise a bit and shortened the recipe to Mushroom Barley Risotto.  I also used a different mix of mushrooms since I didn't realize that a "crimini" mushroom is the same as a "baby portabello" and a "baby portabello" is different from a "portabello".  If left to their own devices, the commonly-used white button mushrooms will mature into crimini, aka baby portabello, mushrooms.  If they continue to grow, they will become portabellos.  Cooking: you learn something new every day.

Adapted from the recipe by Mark Bittman, as modified by Alaina Sullivan


Mushroom Barley Risotto Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces crimini, or baby portabello, mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 1/2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, quartered with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, bring stock to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened.  Add barley and cook until barley is glossy and coated with butter (about 2 to 3 minutes).  Add Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add a dash of salt and pepper and the white wine.  Stir until wine has evaporated.

Mushroom Barley Risotto

With a ladle, begin adding the stock a 1/2 cup at a time.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  When stock is almost evaporated, add more.  Continue in this manner, stirring frequently, until all of the stock is incorporated and the barley is tender with a hint of crunch.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, in batches if they don't all fit comfortably in the skillet, and cook until browned and tender.  Turn cooked mushrooms and their juices into a bowl and set aside.

Remove the bay leaves from the cooked barley.  Stir in the cooked mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese, adding more salt and pepper to taste if needed.

This serves four as a light entree and reheats marvelously.

Mushroom Barley Risotto