I love making rice pilafs, but sometimes, I like experimenting with different types of grains. I have found that pearled barley is a great alternative to rice. It's chewier, more toothsome and the grains absorb all the wonderful flavors of the broth that it's cooked in. Plus, pearl barley is incredibly hearty, so a bowl of this pilaf will definitely fill you up!
One important thing to note is that barley is not gluten-free. If you want to make a gluten-free version of this dish, use rice instead of barley and reduce the amount of broth to 3 cups total.
For this mushroom barley pilaf, I'm using a mixture of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have a more intense mushroom flavor, so they add another layer of rich and savory flavor to the dish. To start, you will want to dry sauté the mushrooms, essentially cooking the mushrooms without any oil. Mushrooms naturally release juices as they cook, so you can skip the oil for that step!
A great way to repurpose your leftovers is to add the barley pilaf to your vegetable soups!
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms stemmed and sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups pearl barley
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme roughly chopped
- Zest from 1 lemon
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dry sauté the mushrooms by adding them to a large sauté pan and cooking them over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they start releasing their liquids, stirring frequently. Transfer the mushrooms and juices to a bowl. Wipe down the pan.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and salt, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the barley and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir everything for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the mushrooms and their juices into the pan, then stir in the vegetable broth and thyme. Raise heat and bring the broth to boil. Reduce the heat a little so that the broth is simmering. Cover the pot, and let the barley cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the broth has been fully absorbed and the barley is tender. Remove from heat and let the barley sit for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon zest and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.