Mushroom Barley Risotto

For the last Monday of 2018, I went meatless. To do so, I used barley to make a risotto. Barley is low in calories, high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals, so it was a perfect way to end the old year on a healthy note. I added to it mushrooms that I had sautéed in sherry. Of course, you could substitute vegetable or mushroom broth and olive oil for butter to make it entirely vegetarian.

Mushroom Barley Risotto

4 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup pearl barley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (I used portobello and shiitake), sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup sherry

Bring chicken stock to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Melt butter in large skillet over low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add barley, thyme, bay leaf and stir to combine. Pour in 2 cups of the warm chicken stock; bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of stock is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until barley is tender, about 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter in another large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic. Reduce heat to medium and stir in sherry. Cover and cook until mushrooms are tender and the majority of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally. Mix mushrooms into the barley. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Spoon risotto into bowls and serve immediately.

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