Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto is one of those cozy, fall dishes that takes very little effort but has a huge payoff in flavor. And even though this dish and dishes like this are typically called “risotto” it’s made with barley rather than rice. Call me Miss Obvious, lol! 🙂
I guess the name for dishes like this just came about for two reasons. One to “fancy up” this marvelous grain (I thought about calling it a Mushroom Barley Bake but it just didn’t have the same panache) and the other as a nod to risotto because it’s flavored with wine, and finished with a little butter and Parmesan (more on that, below) just like real deal risotto.
About Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto:
What the name doesn’t describe, though, is just how plump and chewy and nutty the barley becomes, soaking up all the flavor of the aromatics, herbs, wine, and broth as it roasts. Or how the finished dish is wrapped in silkiness from the finish of butter and cheese, and is punctuated by the diced carrots and mushrooms. A few fresh herbs, parsley, and/or chives if you have them, can never be wrong sprinkled on top.
This dish is fabulous as a main or as a side – and if you use a veggie broth, rather than beef, it is one of those dishes you can toss on the table that will please both vegetarians and/or carnivores at the table. This dish will go on rotation at my house if I can coax any littles into trying it, but I’m always looking for dishes like this for a holiday like Thanksgiving when there might be the occasional non-meat eater at the table.
Full disclosure: I did steal the bones of this dish from the New York Times, keeping some elements and adding to it, paying close attention to the helpful comments.
Making Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto:
This recipe is the easiest and a one-pan dish if you use a pan that goes from stove-top to oven. If you have an enameled cast iron, that would be gorgeous but I just use my skillet.
- There are three stages to the recipe. First of all, the veggies are sauteed. I like to get some browning on them for extra flavor and then add a little wine to bubble and evaporate away.
- The liquid and the barley (and any dried herbs) are added, and the dish is covered and tossed in the oven to roast.
- When the barley is tender and most of the liquid absorbed, which takes about 55 minutes,, a little butter and parmesan are added, a few fresh herbs sprinkled and it’s time to serve.
Just a few notes: Do make sure you use the “right” barley for this recipe. You’ll want pearl barley (don’t use Instant) and you can read more about pearl barley at The Holistic Nutritionist. Don’t be shy with salt and pepper; grains like this can use quite a bit. Always check dishes like this about 10 minutes ahead to make sure they have enough liquid and don’t stick and burn. This recipe can be very easily doubled. As it is, it makes about four hearty sides or two or three main dish helpings.
Adjusting the Flavor & Seasoning:
You can tinker with just about anything in this recipe. Just make sure to follow the proportions of liquid to barley (not counting the wine, which evaporates away) so the barley cooks & plumps up and is all nutty and chewy but still tender.
Sub in or out any vegetables you wish (just know that omitting any will reduce the total amount of the dish. A few canned, diced tomatoes (strain them, measure the juice and use as part of the liquid in the recipe) would be nice.
Omit the wine if you want to, and/or add in a tablespoon or two of sherry. Vary the herbs to suit your taste. I love thyme, but maybe you’d like to use an Italian or Greek blend or any of your fave herbs. Use any kind of broth you want, beef, chicken or vegetable. This would be great with shredded chicken added to it or the recipe used as a bed for whole chicken pieces, brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt, pepper, maybe a little garlic powder, laid on top to cook together with the risotto.
As for the finish, when I started making this recipe, I added butter and Parmesan but later started riffing. The butter I like for the richness and silkiness it adds, but it’s gilding the lily, and it could be omitted. I sometimes toss in a little goat cheese, and this is great with Feta, as shown in the photo. A few fresh herbs do help to brighten the dish up. I could see passing a bottle of white, red, or balsamic vinegar at the table.
What to Serve With:
I loved this dish with the Simple Roasted Onions shown in the photo – they cook at the same temperature but will need to start ahead of the risotto. The two dishes complement each other so well. The onions add a brightness and the little toasts spread with the garlic did too! Both dishes were brown and I couldn’t help but think the dish could have used something colorful on the plate. Maybe roasted carrots, my Oven Roasted Root Vegetables, simple steamed green beans, asparagus in the spring or Brussels sprouts in the fall.
With dishes like this, I always tend to think the way to go is to serve as a vegetarian main meal or chicken or turkey but there isn’t any reason to limit yourself. This would be a fun side for a pot roast, too. Any time you want a deeply flavored, earthy dish that’s a bit different from the norm, think of this one.
How to Store Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto:
Store your barley in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days. When reheating, if it seems a bit dry, just add a little water.
If you are not going to eat all your Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto, freeze it for another time. It freezes beautifully and will keep several months in your fridge or deep freeze. I would suggest using the heavy freezer zip bags. Portion out for individual servings if you wish.
Barley is one of those items that really never goes on sale. I think it’s just underrated and doesn’t generate much interest. You’ll usually find small boxes in the cereal aisle and might need to search a bit. It’s usually around the oatmeal. Rarely, I’ve seen boxes near the rice and beans. Sometimes, you’ll find it in bulk, especially at a health food store.
Follow the tag at the bottom of the page or use the search to find other recipes to use the rest of your barley, but I can’t help but recommend one of my Beef & Barley Soups, either this one with a doctored up boxed beef broth, Beef Barley Soup or my Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup.
What does go on sale often is mushrooms, usually for 1/2 price. White button mushrooms are your friend if you’re on a budget. They offer the same nutritional value as any of the fancier ones for less cost.
If you watch for sales and base your menu on those items, you’ll always save money, especially if you have a stock of pantry items to use. That brings us to stock or broth. They do go on sale regularly but the best time to stock up is during the Winter Holidays, and the next best is Easter and Lent. If your store is always low during those times, check in the early a.m.
Fall, to me, is always bittersweet – it’s my fave time of the year (and I’m so lucky to have a last one in Minnesota – I am so going to miss all my maples and oaks) but it means winter is coming!
One plus of the cool weather? I love to pull a glorious, rustic, long cooking dish like this out of the oven and just plop it down on the table to serve, all casual-like, and really let it serve as the centerpiece of the meal!
Hope you’ll enjoy this one as much as we do whether you serve as a side or double for a main dish!
Roasted Mushroom Barley Risotto
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Side
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, such as white button, cremini, and shiitakes, halved if small, quartered if large (or chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly minced
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cups white wine
- 3/4 cup pearl barley (about 5 ounces) not instant barley
- 2 1/4 cups broth
- 3/4 teaspoon thyme
- 2 ounces grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons butter
- chopped chives and/or parsley for serving
Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a pan that goes from stove to oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soften and begin to brown. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. If your vegetables become too dry before they pick up color, add a little water to the pan.
Add wine and scrape the bottom of the pan clean. Allow to evaporate, stirring as needed. Add the barley, broth and thyme, additional salt to taste (about 3/4 teaspoon) and bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven for 55 minutes to an hour to, checking about 10 minutes early to make sure barley isn’t sticking to pan. Add a little additional liquid if needed. When finished, barley should be soft and chewy and all the liquid should be absorbed.
Stir in Parmesan and the butter until slightly thickened and creamy. taste and adjust seasoning. Divide among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with chives and more Parmesan, to taste.
Keywords: Alcohol, Barley, Beef Stock, Carrots, Cheese, Chicken Stock, Feta, Goat Cheese, mushrooms, parmesan, Side, Vegetable Stock, Vegetarian Meal, Wine