Deb's Barley and Mushroom Magic
Here it is folks, Deb’s much anticipated follow up to her very popular Righteous Kale Salad. It is a dish not too dissimilar to mushroom dishes we have posted, but different enough to pull some serious flavour punches. We don’t use barley nearly enough when cooking at home and this has presented us with the perfect excuse to start.
Pearl Barley is delicious and has a great texture that is very satisfying. While technically it is not considered a whole grain, it does retain a lot of its nutrition and adds a nice earthy flavour that works great with many ingredients and especially with mushrooms. Since pear barley is polished it is worth purchasing a brand that has not removed most of the good stuff, the darker the better. If what is available is very light in colour, then it would be worth searching out pot barley which is less processed, but will take slightly longer to cook and may require pre-soaking.
Mushrooms offer fantastic health benefits, since they are not of the plant kingdom and are a species unto them self, their nutritional benefits are unique. Put them out into direct sunlight and they will absorb bioavailable vitamin D, how trippy is that!? Go shrooms!
Deb recommends, and I take her word for it, to use a combination of brown and exotic mushrooms. We consider shiitake to be fairly exotic, even if widely available where we live, but since this dish has its roots, or shall I say spores, in Italy, it’s worth seeking out some porcini mushrooms.
A risotto, which happens to be the inspiration for this dish, is usually finished off with a sprinkling of hard pecorino or Parmesan cheese. We opt instead for a drizzle of truffle oil which we find adds a further touch of deep lovely shroominess to the dish
When Deb sent me the recipe wild garlic was in season, and because I am only posting it now (Deb, I hang my head in embarrassment), we have replaced the wild garlic with two cloves of garlic. Otherwise the recipe is as delivered! I apologise for this and can only say that the dish remains one worth trying.
Ingredients: (serves 4 adults as a main)
- 400g fresh chestnut mushrooms thinly sliced
- 275g (1 1/2 cups) pearl barley
- 100g fresh exotic mushrooms thinly sliced if they are not small
- 200g thinly sliced leeks
- 2 X carrots chopped small
- 2 X celery stalks finely chopped
- 3 X shallots finely chopped
- Big handful of wild garlic (both green and white parts) washed and roughly chopped
- Fresh thyme
- 100 ml (just over 1/3 cup) dry white wine
- 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable or mushroom stock/broth
- Olive oil
- Saute leeks, carrots, celery, and shallots in olive oil over medium high heat until softened and slightly browned.
- Stir in fresh thyme.
- Add wild garlic and saute until wilted.
- Add pearl barley and stir well to incorporate flavors.
- Add wine and cook down until it is completely absorbed.
- Add stock so that the barley mixture is covered by about 2 cm.
- Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 40 minutes or so until barley is softened and most of the stock is absorbed.
- While the barley is simmering saute mushrooms in a different pan in olive oil until soft and brown. Saute mushrooms in batches if the pan is small, so as to promote browning.
- After barley has finished simmering stir in mushrooms.
- Let mixture cook over low heat uncovered, stirring regularly until almost all the liquid is absorbed.
- Finish with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.