Wild Mushroom and Barley Risotto

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Barley is a great grain with lots of nutty flavor and a nice bite. We often see barley in soup, but it can be used for many dishes. This risotto takes advantage of this grain’s great taste and creamy texture when cooked using this method. Risotto is often thought of as a dish made with rice, but it is actually a cooking method. It seems hard at first, but it is not difficult. Just get a glass of your favorite beverage, stand and stir, and contemplate life for a few minutes. The extra effort is worth the trouble. This dish is a great example of adding lots of vegetables in a grain dish to decrease calories and boost fiber. This recipe comes complements of my friend Chef Ellen Clevenger-Firley – Thanks, Ellen! .

Serves 6
Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes


  • 6 cups mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 3 cups sliced or coarse chopped mushrooms, any variety or combination
  • 1½ cups uncooked barley, rinsed  (do not use quick cooking)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (omit to make this dish vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (omit to make this dish vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring broth and water to a simmer.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large chef’s pan. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add red wine and cook until almost evaporated.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook stirring often until they begin to release their juices.
  5. Add barley and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add 1 cup of warm broth and stir continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Continue adding broth 1 cup at a time while stirring. Keep adding broth until barley is cooked through and tender (about 35-45 minutes). Add a bit more broth. Dish should be a bit loose at this point as it will continue to thicken.
  8. Stir in spinach and allow to wilt.
  9. Add more broth if the dish is too stiff.
  10. Stir in cheese and butter if using.
  11. Taste and add pepper and adjust seasoning if needed.

Nutrition Information per Serving:

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
  • Vegetables: 1 cup
  • Fruits: 0 cups
  • Calories: 314 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 46 grams
  • Fiber: 9 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 12 grams
  • Sodium: 450-700mg depending on broth selected (sodium will vary based on the broth you use)

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