Meatless Monday: Pearled Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and MushroomsA Meatless Monday post has been long over due. And given that we’re pretty much at end of asparagus season, this post is a bit over due as well. And while we’re at, any post at all is much over due for this blog. But hey, that’s neither here nor there.

Pearled barley has become one of my new favorite ingredients and it’s great in risotto style dishes. The technique is essentially the same, but it requires a little less stirring than a traditional risotto. I found this recipe via, but the original comes from the blog What Would Cathy Eat ?. As any and all bloggers and home cooks do, I improvised a little bit.


Pearled Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Recipe adapted from What Would Cathy Eat ?
Serves 4-6


1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
8 oz. shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3/4 cup white wine (I recommend Sauvignon Blanc)
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1-2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (I forgot this step, as you can see in my photo)
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper


In a stock pot, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus into a colander and rinse under cold water for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a sauce pan.

Add the pearled barley to the skillet,stir until coated with oil and mixed in with the onions and mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine, stir to mix and cook until most of the wine has reduced and evaporated.

Add one or two ladles of stock to the skillet and cook until mostly evaporated, stirring occasionally. Continue adding the stock in this manner until the barley is tender but still a bit chewy. This should take about 30 minutes. If you run out of the stock, feel free to add water until you get the barley is done.

Once you’re finished adding the stock, bring the heat to low and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Mix in the reserved asparagus, parsley and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As with the wine used in the recipe, I recommend serving with a nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.


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