Autumn is starting to creep in, and this simple and thrifty mushroom barley risotto is so right for the colder evenings. Barley is currently about a quarter of the price of risotto rice, and has loads more fibre. Maybe it is something to do with childhood stews, but I also think it is a really autumnal ingredient.
Ottolenghi has an awesome barley risotto in his book Jerusalem which is cooked in tomato and served with marinated feta. It is probably the easiest of his dishes to make and never fails to please. In fact, that feta would go pretty well here as well.
Mushrooms are also plentiful in the supermarkets right now, and again I think they are a quintessential ingredient for this time of the year. Use your favourites, as you can see I have squeezed in as many as humanly possible.
Using dried mushrooms and mushroom stock simply add to the savoury, comforting kick. If you can’t find mushroom stock (I got mine in Carluccio’s along with a fungi balsamic glaze), go for a good veg stock instead, or even chicken if you aren’t catering for vegetarians.
Thyme and parsley are perfect bed fellows for mushroom as they have an earthy flavour. Just thinking about this is making me want to eat it all over again. Thankfully, it is so thrifty and filling that I think we will be enjoying this well in to winter and beyond!
A frugal, hearty risotto which uses mushroom to give a deep savoury flavour which even meat eaters will love.
200g field/wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tbsp dried mushrooms
700ml hot mushroom stock
2 onions, thinly sliced
160g pearl barley
3 garlic cloves, minced / grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
Oil (rapeseed or olive)
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp Halen Mon umami seasoning (optional)
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Cover the dried mushrooms in just enough boiling water to cover them. Leave for 15 mins.
In a large saute or frying pan, add a knob of butter (a couple of tbsp) and a good drizzle of oil over a medium heat.
Add your fresh mushrooms (keep them chunky when chopping them) and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and add more oil to the pan.
Cook the onions over a low heat until they are soft - 7-10 minutes. When they are nice and soft, throw in the garlic, thyme, pearl barley and dried mushrooms with the liquid they have steeped in. Mix well.
Add the stock, fresh mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and umami seasoning, bring to the boil and then simmer until the barley is tender- around 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more stock if needs be.
When the barley is cooked, add a handful of parsley and a handful of Parmesan cheese and stir through. Remove from the heat, add a small knob of butter, and stir through.
Drizzle with balsamic before serving.
The umami seasoning I use contains seaweed and powdered mushroom. It adds incredible depth, but if you can't find it maybe add a few more dried mushrooms to your dish.
If there are enoki mushrooms in your mix, add them at the end when you stir through the cheese as they are very delicate.
I found a porcini balsamic glaze at Carluccios Restaurant Deli, but a good aged balsamic is perfect as well.
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