This luxurious vegan mushroom barley risotto is my new go-to recipe for special occasion dinners. It’s silky and rich without any of the cheese or butter and is super easy to make!
Swapping barley for arborio rice makes it is less labour-intensive than traditional risotto which requires constant stirring. With pearl barley you simply add vegetable broth, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. I’m all about the low-stress recipes you can set and forget; I use the extra time to clean up the kitchen, set the table and generally chill out. This low-maintenance dish also has some pretty awesome nutritional benefits. Barley has more than double the dietary fiber of arborio rice and 6x the amount of iron.
Also, fun fact: Did you know that when risotto is made with pearl barley instead of arborio rice it’s actually called “orzotto”? (The italian word for barley is orzo) Fancy!
I made this for date-night with my sister on Saturday and was incredibly indulgent. We paired it with fresh Rosemary Foccacia dipped in olive oil and balsamic, which I highly recommend.
If you haven’t cooked with barley before, make sure you buy pearl barely, this is the variety that is had the outer hull removed and has been polished to remove the bran layer. It cooks faster and is less chewy than other forms of the grain such as pot barley. When cooked barley has a pasta-like consistency and a rich nutty flavour.
Mushroom & Barley Risotto
- 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of Herbamare (or salt) and pepper
- 4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup pine nuts*
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (to taste)
- handful of chopped fresh parsley
- In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and saute onions and garlic until onion in translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add mushrooms and saute until browned.
- Add fresh thyme and barley, stir to combine and continue to cook over medium for approx. 1 minute.
- Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. When finished liquid should be almost all absorbed and barley is tender. If needed, add more vegetable broth and continue to cook until at desired texture.
- Stir in nutritional yeast, walnuts, pine nuts and continue to heat for approx 1 minute. Add fresh parsley and serve.