This barley risotto features fabulously nutty pearl barley, cooked up risotto style with mushrooms, garlic and Parmesan. A great meatless main or a hearty side.

Barley with Mushrooms

I am a huge fan of barley for comfort food and it’s a bonus that it’s a particularly healthy choice, full of fibre and great fuel for all the shovelling in my future. Whether it’s in a soup or a salad, or cooked up risotto style, barley is always a great choice.

This dish cooks up the barley risotto-style, with rich beef broth, garlic and mushrooms and a touch of Parmesan. It’s full of flavour and nutty, chewy deliciousness.

Enjoy this as a meatless main, or cook up a batch and enjoy as a side dish with a simple protein. It’s hearty, nutty and delicious, with the goodness of whole grains.

If you’ve shopped for barley, you no doubt found two kinds on the shelf – pot barley and pearl barley. Not sure what the difference is? Read on …

What’s the difference between pot barley and pearl barley?

All barley is husked after harvest, by running through a husking machine. Pot barley (or sometimes called hulled barley) is lightly husked, removing only the inedible outer layer and leaving the bran and germ layer in intact. As such, pot barley is the whole grain version, with the most possible nutrients. Due to the outer layer though, pot barley requires more time to cook. Pot barley is best suited for soups or stews, that will cook for a longer time.

Pearl barley is left for a longer time in the husking machine, to remove the outer bran and germ layers, revealing the inner white or “pearl” coloured barley. Despite the removal of the outer layers, pearl barley is still a nutritious option and a great, high-fibre choice. Without the outer layer, pearl barley takes less time to cook, so it’s perfect for dishes that will cook for a shorter time.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms

Cook’s Notes

I have made this dish several ways, working with what I’ve had on hand, so I can tell you definitively that it’s worth picking up beef broth, rather than using chicken broth. The depth and flavour of beef broth perfectly complements the nutty barley and the mushrooms in a way that chicken broth can’t compete with. That said, if you would like to make this one vegetarian, simply substitute a nice vegetable broth and maybe consider adding a splash of balsamic vinegar for some flavour depth.

While it is possible to make this dish with pot barley, it won’t cook in the specified time or with the specified amount of broth. You will need to cook longer and keep adding broth until tender, probably another 15 minutes and several cups more of broth.

While this one is cooked risotto-style, you don’t have to hover over it as you would with a rice risotto. Just keep an eye on it, stir a bit and add more broth when the pan gets dry. Otherwise, it will just simmer away on the stove-top.

I love to use a mix of mushrooms, even if it’s just combining button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms. The variety is nice.

I prefer to start with a low or no sodium beef broth and add salt to the dish myself as I cook it. I find it much easier to control the saltiness of the finished dish that way.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms

barley risotto with mushrooms in pan with spoon

Get the Recipe: Barley Risotto with Mushrooms

Delicious and filling, this is barley cooked risotto style, with lots of mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. A great meatless main or a delicious side dish.
5 stars from 16 ratings
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter, DIVIDED
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, about 1 standard tray
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups beef broth, hot
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

For garnish:

  • Additional fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat the beef broth in a saucepan and keep warm.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly until mushrooms are tender and lightly golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add the barley and the remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add one ladle of the hot beef broth and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until nearly all of the broth has been absorbed. *You don't want to boil the mixture too vigorously, but you do want a consistent simmer. Adjust heat to that point. Continue adding broth, one ladle at a time, allowing the it to cook until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle. Cook until all the broth is added. Test the barley. You want it to be al dente. If it is not quite there, add another ladle of hot water (or broth, if you have more available) and cook a bit longer. When barley is cooked, stir in grated Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  • Season dish with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve with additional grated Parmesan and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs or fresh thyme leaves.

Notes

Be sure to read the Cook's Notes above the Recipe Card, for more tips on making this recipe.
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Main Course
Author: Jennifer
Calories: 226kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 716mg, Potassium: 328mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 215IU, Vitamin C: 1.4mg, Calcium: 71mg, Iron: 1.4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @seasonsandsuppers on Instagram or tag #seasonsandsuppers.

 
This recipe was adapted from a Food & Wine version.