Barley Mushroom Risotto

from One Bowl at a Time

Serves 4 as a main dish

Feel free to enjoy this dish as is, or top each portion with some pieces of cooked chicken or steak, and fold in cooked peas.  If you can’t find dried shiitakes, substitute any other dried mushrooms – such as morels or chanterelles, or use fresh mushrooms and skip the reconstituting step.  In place of the mushroom liquid, use additional chicken stock.  Be sure to use pearl barley, not pot barley.


5 dried whole shiitake mushrooms

1 ½ cups boiling water

2 tbsp butter

2 cups sliced assorted fresh mushrooms

¼ tsp dried thyme

Salt to taste

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup diced bacon

2 tbsp butter

1 cup pearl (not pot) barley, do not rinse

Mushroom juice from reconstituting dry mushrooms, or chicken stock

4 cups chicken stock, approximately

1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley


Place shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and pour over the boiling water.  Cover with a lid or plate and let sit for 1 hour or longer.  Line a sieve with several layers of moistened cheese cloth.  Drain the mushrooms through the cheese cloth, reserving the liquid, which you will use later.

Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and discard.  Slice the caps.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 tbsp butter, the fresh sliced mushrooms, sliced reconstituted shiitakes, thyme, and some salt; sauté for several minutes.  Add the remaining ½ cup mushroom liquid or chicken stock, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Set aside.

In a medium pot over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic, and bacon in the butter for 5 minutes.  Add the barley and toast over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the drained mushroom juice and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Add ½ cup chicken stock and stir frequently but not constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Continue to add stock, ½ cup at a time cooking until almost all the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ½ cup of stock; stir frequently, until the barley becomes tender but still has a bit of bite, about 25 minutes.

To serve, fold in the sauteed mushrooms and ½ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Spoon into serving bowls and top with the remaining grated Parmesan and some finely chopped parsley.

Images and content used with permission by author CJ Katz.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: I couldn’t find dried mushrooms so used fresh shiitake and cremini mushrooms.  My family doesn’t care for Parmesan cheese so skipped that as well.  This recipe is SO good!  I served it with steak with onion and mushroom sauce – went perfectly together.  And because we had leftovers of both the risotto and steak, the following day I tossed everything together for a Beef Barley Soup and fresh French bread… a HUGE hit!