100 Days Project, Mains, Recipes, Vegan (with substitutions)

Day 25 – Creamy Pearl Barley & Porcini Mushroom Risotto


Who Hoo . . . it is Day 25, which means I am a quarter of the way through my 100 Days Project challenge.

Do you ever forget you already have an ingredient in the pantry and buy more? I do . . . recently this has happened with pearl barley; I have more pearl barley in my cupboard than anyone person should realistically have. I figured this milestone called for something a little bit fancy, and this recipe for Creamy Pearl Barley & Porcini Mushrrom Risotto, from Treehugger (my favorite green living website), originally caught my eye when I was going through a phase of experimenting with pearl barley recipes. I never got around to making this one so it was a perfect fit for today’s recipe.

Pearl Barley is the most common form of barley used for cooking. It cooks faster and is less chewy than other, less-processed forms of barley. Similar to wheat in its caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral content, pearl barley is cooked mainly in soups and stews. In this case, using barley in a risotto gives the dish a nutty flavor not usually found with risotto rice.

Porcini Mushrooms are a prized ingredient in various foods and cuisines.  Most often dried, these mushrooms keep their flavor after drying, and are then reconstituted and used in cooking.  Low in fat and digestible carbohydrates, and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, Porcini mushrooms are commonly prepared and eaten in soups, pasta, or risotto.  They are sold commercially,but are very difficult to cultivate making Porcini mushrooms an expensive ingredient, but I figured Day 25 needed to be special.

Thank you Herbivores for sticking with me so far!! I hope you are enjoying the recipes I am sharing with you and they are inspiring you to do some cooking of your own.

Creamy Pearl Barley & Porcini Mushroom Risotto

adapted from: Treehugger


  • 14g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (use olive oil for a vegan version)
  • 4 good sized shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (be sure it is vegan, if making the vegan version)
  • 4 cups mushroom or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup crumbled fresh soft cheese (skip for vegan version, or use a vegan substitute)
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh oregano, chives, or other fresh herb of your choice
  • salt to taste

Combine porcini mushrooms with 1 cup hot water in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Then remove mushrooms, squeezing out and reserving soaking liquid.  Rinse and drain the porcini mushrooms, then chop finely. Strain the soaking liquid through a paper towel lined sieve into a medium saucepan. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, porcini mushrooms, and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft but not
browned. Stir in barley until well coated with onion mixture.

Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring until wine has been absorbed. Remember you need to use a wine that tastes nice, because if you use a cheap, bad tasting wine, that flavor will transfer into your dish. Stir in 2 cups stock. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until stock has been absorbed and barley has swollen and is starting to soften.

Meanwhile, add remaining stock to mushroom soaking liquid and heat over medium-high heat until steaming. Keep this mixture warm over low heat.  Add the hot stock mixture to barley 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often and allowing barley to absorb stock before adding more, until most of the stock is used and barley is tender but still a little chewy, about 20 minutes. You may not use all of the left over stock.

Stir in the cheese and half of your chosen fresh herb. Season with salt and more pepper to taste. Spoon into shallow bowls and sprinkle with remaining fresh herb.

Pour yourself a glass of the left over wine, and . . .



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