Mushroom Barley “Risotto”

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and positivity.  I was a bit nervous about posting something so personal yesterday, but I truly am surrounded by the most incredible people there are (YOU!).  I can’t thank you enough for your support.

“Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are the same individual.”

I realized in the midst of my (internal) madness that I’ve been forgoing my daily journaling practice for over a week, and that I’ve been neglecting my blogging as well [big slap in the forehead]. When I don’t write I feel like my emotions aren’t being released. Like I have all this energy inside waiting to be shared with the world (and myself), but that it’s just stuck there.  Stagnant.

Writing is so vital to my life – it helps me function, helps me process, helps me grieve, helps me grow. I started writing again yesterday – both here and in my journal – and I feel a bit lighter already.  Not quite back to myself, but closer 🙂 .

Another personal source of solace for me is cooking. I enjoy the meditative, repetitive aspects of chopping and the reminder of how connected I am to the earth (thank you for sharing your energy with me).  After our great three-day weekend on `O`ahu, I was actually able to create something from my newest favorite cookbook: “Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health”.

I have been absolutely in love with the “Moosewood Cookbook” that Ben’s parents got us for our first anniversary back in October.  I love the original cookbook so much that I did some research on the other cookbooks offered by Moosewood (there are a ton, including kids’ cookbooks!).  I decided on this Cooking for Health one next mostly because it has an emphasis on nutrition.  The book goes into nutrients – the reasons they’re so important for us and what exactly they all do.  Yes, it’s safe to say that I am in love with this cookbook.

I came home from a long weekend of eating salads (because that’s the easiest choice for me when eating out so often) craving something hearty and healthy.  After flipping through the book, I found a recipe that had minimal ingredients (that I actually had on hand!) and would make both Ben and me happy campers: mushroom barley “risotto”.

A few months ago I attempted to get more adventurous with my grains, so I went out and bought a few grains I knew nothing about: some bulk barley, some buckwheat groats, and bulgur.  The bulgur went into one of my new favorites, the lentil-bulgur salad (click for recipe); the buckwheat groats created incredible buckwheat granola (click for recipe) and everyone’s new favorite Dream Bar (click for recipe); and the bulgur?  Well, I made a mediocre-tasting veggie soup with it (that wasn’t blog-worthy), and the rest of it has been sitting in my cupboard waiting for the perfect recipe to come around 🙂 .

A little background on barley (because every nutrition-packed grain deserves to be recognized) :

Barley is one of the world’s most cultivated grains.  It boasts a nutty flavor and pasta-like texture, making it versatile (barley can be enjoyed as a breakfast oat, as a base grain with a stirfry, or in a hearty soup).  Barley grain is a member of the grass family and comes in multiple forms in the market.  Hulled barley is eaten after removing the inedible, fibrous outer hull (one serving of this form of barley contains more than 55% of your daily value of fiber!).  Removing the outer hull then classifies the barley as “dehulled” a.k.a. pot barley or scotch barley, which is considered a whole grain.  Finally, further removing the bran, steaming and processing pot barley creates pearl barley.

Barley contains eight essential amino acids and is seen as low-glycemic, however it is not a gluten-free food.  It contains B1 and B3 vitamins as well as selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.                  -Sources: + Moosewood Cooking for Health

If you’re a fan of risotto (and let’s be honest here: who isn’t?) you will adore this simplified, nutrition-packed version of the dish!  The recipe calls for pearl barley, which absorbs lots of water and creates a great, thick texture and the mushrooms give the dish flavorful depth, creating a rich, dense dish that isn’t so dense on calories.  The original recipe also calls for white wine, which we didn’t have, so I omitted it. It came out wonderfully and had Ben and I fighting over the leftovers!


Mushroom Barley “Risotto”

[adapted from Moosewood Cooking for Health]


  • 2.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 c cremini and/or white mushrooms (about 10 oz) – [I used Hamakua mushrooms]
  • 1/4 tsp salt [asks for 1 tsp, but we go low-sodium]
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 c PEARLED barley
  • 3+ c water

Heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat.

While the oil is heating, chop the onion into small pieces, mince the garlic, and slice your mushrooms into desired size.

Add onions and garlic to the olive oil and heat until the onions are transparent.

Add in the mushrooms and cook until they release liquid (about five minutes).

Stir in the spices and soy sauce, barley, and water, and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 mins or more, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the barley is tender and texture is creamy. Add water if needed during the process.

Enjoy! Makes about 5 1 cup servings. I warmed my leftovers up over a bed of spinach the next day and I am hooked!

Nutrition Facts [one cup serving]

Calories 222 • Fat 7g Sodium 100mg • Carbs 35g • Fiber 7.5g • Sugar .5g • Protein 5.5g

What are your favorite adventurous grain recipes?

What frees your spirit?

Aloha Pumehana. Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!


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