Mushroom and barley ‘risotto’: nutty and umami-laden

A bowl of mushroom & barley risotto with thyme

This nutty mushroom and barley ‘risotto’ recipe is a delicious and easy vegetarian dish. The pearly barley gives amazing flavour and the excotic mix of mushrooms (such as shiitake and enoki mushrooms) give this dish amazing meaty texture and umami flavour.

I love to use dried porcini mushrooms with fresh mushrooms when making this barley ‘risotto’. Or any mushroom risotto in fact. The flavour adds such depth, and the water that rehydrates the mushrooms makes a lovely intense stock.

If you cand make your own stock, use a good mushroom stock powder such as porcini mushroom stock.

Two bowls of mushroom and barley risotto with Parmesan cheese.

I have used a selection of mixed exotic mushrooms to make up the fresh component of the dish. I love the meaty texture of shiitake and adore the look of enoki. Use any mushrooms that you like, although I find white button mushrooms the least suitable for risotto. They are the dullest of all the mushroom varieties. They work brilliantly when pickled, but opt for brown, oyster or if you are lucky enough to have access to a few wild varieties, all the better.

mushroom and barley risotto

I have used barley here because I love the nutty taste, but you can make traditional risotto rice, just reduce the cooking time.

Don’t be afraid to add butter, Mascarpone or cream at the end. It makes this more indulgent and creamy. I also add a lot of freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino.

mushroom and barley risotto

Mushroom and barley 'risotto'

A delicious and umami-laden mushroom and barley 'risotto'.
Print Recipe
Mushroom and barley risotto
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes


  •  ½ cup of dried porcini mushrooms about 15g – soaked in 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups of Chicken or Vegetable stock - made from Nomu Fond
  • 2 T butter
  • 200 g mixed exotic mushrooms - chopped
  • 2 t of finely chopped thyme
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to serve


  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid. Roughly chop the soaked mushrooms.
  • Place the mushroom stock and the chicken/vegetable stock in a small pot and heat this, keeping it warm on the stove as you make the dish.
  • In a heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the onions for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and briefly cook.
  • Add the barley stirring to coat all the grains and cook for about a minute. Add the wine, porcini mushrooms and thyme, and cook until most of the wine has evaporated.
  • Add the hot stock to the barley mix one ladle at a time stirring frequently.
  • While the barley is cooking, heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fresh mushrooms until they just start to turn golden and set aside.
  • Keep adding the stock until the barley is cooked through but still has a bite – this will take about 30 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms 3 minutes before the end.
  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.


Add a tablespoon of cream or butter at the end to make it more indulgent
Servings: 2
Author: Sam Linsell


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  1. Gorgeous photos! Anything with mushrooms, garlic and cheese immediately catches my attention – Yum!

  2. Barley and mushrooms is one of my favorite pairings. Adding Mascarpone at the end is a must!

  3. David Smale says:

    How funny, I made an ostrich neck Ossobuco served with barley risotto. Try spelt as well my favourite

  4. ooh I could so do with a big bowl of that right now. I’m really loving barley these days, it’s such a delicious addition to any winter meal

  5. i am most certainly going to try the barley–this sounds wonderful–

  6. i love using barley to make ‘risotto’. It so naturally creamy and a lot healthier than rice. Beautiful mood setting for the photos 🙂

  7. richardatuct says:

    Love the low-key style of the photos Sam 🙂

  8. richardatuct says:

    lo-fi even 😛

  9. This looks absolutely amazing! I love barley risotto, it’s such a beautiful alternative to regular risotto.

    By the way, I adore your photography, your images are so stunning.

  10. Thanks Jennifer, Im so loving my photography journey.

  11. Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  12. Thanks Nicole 🙂

  13. When we visit the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, I make a beeline for the exotic mushroom stall. Love your recipe and your photography is delicious!

  14. I love this take on risotto. I never used barely before so i am eager to try. I saw a similar recipe to this from Nigella’s new cook book where she used farro and ricotta(for the butter) in the mix. I guess the great minds think alike. Such wonderful food pictures.

  15. Thanks Belinda, I love beetroot and barley ‘risotto’ too.

  16. Oh wow, a bowl of that in my sickie condition would make everything A~O~K,…. Yummy Thanks

  17. I agree with Nicole, mushrooms, cheese, garlic, OMG!

  18. Looks amazing! I’m making this tonight, but I have just one question. Where do you use the wine? The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of dry white wine, but it’s not in the instructions.

  19. Hi Myriah, oops, thanks for letting me know. I always add the wine before I start adding the stock. So once its cooked off I start adding the hot stock.

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