Good ol’ Robbie Burns said it best when he talked about the “best laid plans of mice and men” … 

The original plan for last night was for vegetable and barley soup with roast turkey sammiches on the side.  Unfortunately, the mister wasn’t feeling at the top of his game so he opted for eggs on toast, instead.  Now, while I like breakfast for dinner at the end of a long week, I love my weekend cooking.  I love being able to experiment with dishes that take a little more time or effort, so I made my mister his eggs on toast, but decided to have a rummage through the fridge to make someting special for myself.

I liked the idea of barley, but didn’t feel like making a pot of soup for myself.  So, instead, I decided to treat the barley like it was arborio rice and make myself some mushroom risotto with the shallots I got at the weekly Hammersmith market.  The nice thing is that barley doesn’t require the gradual ladelling and stirring that arborio rice does – you can just pour your entire quantity of stock at one time and let it cook – delicious, healthy and easy! 

Mushroom and Barley Risotto

  • olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 shallots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • grated parmesan, thyme or chopped parsley to garnish

In a large pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat until sizzling.  Add the shallots and cook until soft, then add the mushrooms, thyme and salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms start to release their liquid.  Add the barley and stir to coat with the mushroom mixture, cooking for a minute, then add the white wine and stir until evaporated.  Pour in the stock and raise the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover, letting the barley cook slowly.  It should take about 30-40 minutes for the grain to completely absorb the stock, but check every few minutes to give it a stir.  When it’s about half-cooked, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Once it’s finished, give it a healthy grating of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh thyme or chopped parsley.