Barley & Mushroom Risotto

Average: 5 (1 vote)

 Aromatic and with a rich taste, this is a delicious winter recipe! Barley is a grain indigenous to the UK and is sadly underused. So give it a go.

The risotto is nice served with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast flakes (Marigold Engevita, sold in health stores).

NB. If fresh herbs are not easily available, try combinations of dried. Tarragon goes well with mushroom, for example, so does thyme. Just remember to use half the quantity of dried herbs as they are more intense in flavour than fresh herbs.

What type of barley should I use?
It's up to you! But here's the barley low-down...

  • Pot barley (also known as Scotch barley) is closer to a wholegrain - less taken away so healthier. It's tasty and a bit more chewy and takes about an hour to cook, 20 minutes in a pressure cooker (but less if soaked overnight)
  • Pearl barley, which is more widely available, is more polished so has less of the nutrititious husk but is less chewy. It takes about 30-40 minutes to cook, 18-20 in a pressure cooker

Pearl barley






Pearl barley - a bit more of the nutritious outer husk removed but more widely available and quicker to cook



  • 2 tsp dried mushrooms - porcini or mixed (not shiitake)
  • 960ml/1.75 pts/ hot vegetable stock. Whether home-made or from vegan bouillon (eg Marigold) it needs to be rich
  • 120ml/generous 4fl oz dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 200g/7oz pot or Scotch barley (wholemeal) or pearl barley
  • 200g/7oz/2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano or marjoram, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper


1. Soak the mushrooms in about 225ml/8fl oz boiling water for 20-30 minutes.

2. Drain dried mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Strain the liquid with kitchen paper and set aside and chop soaked mushrooms with scissors and set aside.

3. Combine stock, mushroom liquid and sherry/wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

4. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat olive oil.

5. Add shallots and garlic and cook, until slightly softened - about 1 minute.

6. Add barley and both types of mushrooms and stir until coated with oil.

7. Add half of the hot liquid (stock/sherry mix) and simmer uncovered and stirring frequently until liquid is almost absorbed.

8. Continue adding stock mixture about half a cup at a time.

9. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the barley tender, for about 30 minutes. (You may not need all the stock.)

10. About 5 minutes before the risotto is finished, add herbs, salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Pot or Scotch barley

Pot or Scotch Barley

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