Happy Friday, friends! What are you up to this weekend? We will be getting our hands dirty in our garden, prepping the beds for a sprinkling of lettuce seeds to hit the soil next week. So exciting! Nothing says "Spring!" like a Saturday spent in the yard. I've got my fingers crossed, hoping that the blue sky I see outside of my window sticks around!
Looking ahead at all of the fresh, green produce arriving in the next couple of months made me realize that I've been holding out on you. I really couldn't let Winter completely slip away without sharing this favorite recipe with you all. This hearty little risotto has made an appearance on our table multiple times these last few months and we just can't seem to get enough of it! In fact, there are leftovers in the refrigerator right now, and I am very much looking forward to lunch.
Mushrooms and I got along very well this Winter. That's a change for me, as I've never been a big fan of the stinky fungi. Not that I had anything against them, but I didn't actively seek them out for recipes. Something happened this year, though, and I found myself picking up a half-pound of fresh Cremini mushrooms nearly every week. Usually they were for this risotto, but also for empanadas, and veggie burgers, and a lasagna I haven't yet shared. What I love about the mushrooms in this recipe is that they really are the perfect mate for barley, which replaces the arborio rice typically found in risotto. Both lend an earthiness to the dish that you expect, but they also complement each other texturally. The barley remains a bit firm, providing the slightest resistance as you chew, while the mushrooms are silky and smooth and nearly melt on the tongue. The whole process is relatively quick and simple, not requiring the constant stirring like a traditional risotto, but also makes an impressive side dish for company.
Enjoy the weekend...get outside!
Mushroom Barley Risotto
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 8 ounces cleaned and sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute' onion until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add all mushrooms and saute' until golden brown, about 10 minutes, adding 1 to 3 tbsp water if they start to stick.
- Stir in herbs and garlic, then add barley and stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove lid and add more broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until barley is tender but still slightly firm. You may not use all of the broth, but you will use most of it. This whole process, from the time you add the first broth, should take 35-40 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and add butter and cheese, stirring until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.