Friday, March 13, 2009

Barley Risotto with Marsala and Porcini Mushrooms

It's no secret that Jon and I both love risotto. So I was very intrigued when I saw this recipe for Marsala Barley Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Peas on Elly's blog.

I omitted the peas, and changed just a few things about the recipe based on methods I normally use for cooking traditional risotto. My changes are in italics below.


  • 1.5 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot or half a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary (I didn't use this)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/3 cup marsala wine
  • 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth, kept warm on the stove (I used 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 c water)
  • 1/4 cup peas (I didn't use peas)
  • 1/4 cup grated romano (or parmesan) cheese
  • Added: 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, mostly for color


  • Add 1.25 cups boiling water to the mushrooms and allow them to reconstitute for about 10
    minutes. I didn't do this. Instead, I heated my 4 c broth and 1 c water and added the mushrooms to the pot. After 10 minutes I removed the mushrooms and chopped them. This is what I usually do when cooking risotto with dried mushrooms. I like how it flavors the broth, too.
  • Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add the oil and
    butter until melted together.
  • Stir in the shallot and garlic, and cook until tender.
  • Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan along with the barley and
    rosemary. Stir a few times until the barley turns a little golden.
  • Add the marsala and cook until almost completely evaporated. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Add about 1 cup of the broth/soaking mixture to the barley and cook, stirring frequently,
    until it's almost completely absorbed. Add more broth and continue this step until the barley is tender and chewy, but still a little firm in the center. You should still have some liquid in the pan—you don't want it to be ALL absorbed. Note: This process took about 40 minutes - about double the time I spend adding liquid to traditional arborio rice risotto.
  • Stir in the peas and heat through. Didn't do this - added parsley instead.
  • Off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and season to taste if necessary.

This barley version of risotto was SO rich! It was sweet from the marsala but woody from the mushrooms at the same time. I loved it, although Jon wasn't sure about the texture.

Using barley is an interesting twist on risotto, and I am very glad I tried it. I'll do it again, and now that I know it takes a lot longer than traditional risotto, I'll be prepared for the extra cooking time.

Print this post


  1. Glad you liked it! I do agree the texture is sort of strange if you aren't used to ir or are expecting something more arrborio like. I love the chewiness of barley though!

  2. I love barley. I'm going to have to try this!

  3. This would be fabulous with a mixture of fresh criminis and shiitakes. Great photo!
    - Brittany

  4. I am definitely going to try this recipe. The picture and description are very enticing. I am a pretty health-conscious person and thought that these recipes which include whole grains is relevant to this post:

    Feel free to leave a comment! :)