Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Carrots

Barley is a great substitute for risotto, especially when you don't have a lot of time to spend stirring the pot. Unlike risotto, which requires constant attention, with barley you can just add the liquid, cook, and give it an occasional stir. It's a little nuttier and chewier, all the better to pair it with the earthy-style Pinot Noirs from Oregon and from the Côte Chalonnaise district of Burgundy, whose mushroomy character echoes the earthy dried and fresh mushrooms.

  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 6 ounces coarsely chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them. Let stand to soften, about 30 minutes.

2. Line a small strainer with a coffee filter, and strain the mushroom liquid through the filter and into a bowl or measuring cup.

3. Squeeze the mushrooms to extract any excess liquid and strain into the container and reserve.

4. Rinse the reconstituted dried mushrooms under running water to remove any grit, pat dry with paper towels, and chop fine. Set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and shallot and sauté 5 minutes.

6. Add the button mushrooms and sauté until tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

7. Add the chopped dried shiitakes, wine, thyme, and barley, stirring until the wine is nearly evaporated.

8. Add the broth and 1 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and the barley is almost tender, about 25 minutes.

9. Add the remaining 1 cup mushroom broth and cook, stirring, until the barley is tender and creamy, about 5 minutes.

10. Stir in the chopped parsley and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Cook time: 
Serves 6

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