We decided to take a random adventure to Eugene, Oregon this weekend. I had risotto written in my food journal for today but I decided to let the specifics be inspired by whatever we found at the wonderful Eugene Saturday market. We came home with this gorgeous bounty.
I originally set out to try and make risotto with traditional arborio rice, but then I discovered that people make risotto with all kinds of grains! For some reason barley was calling to me today, but arborio rice would work too. My husband made his with arborio rice and we did a side by side comparison. Different, but both delicious. By all means experiment with different grains! Personally, I love the chewy pop of barley.
Because of the grain, this one is only suitable for the maintenance food plan. If you are on the weight loss food plan, file this one away for now. This dish is also missing protein and isn’t a complete veggie serving, so you’ll have to supplement your meal with another side dish. I like to have a small side salad with beans and caesar or tahini dressing.
Mushroom, Leek, & Barley Risotto
Each Serving Contains:
- 8 oz Veggies
- 1 Fat Serving
- 1 Grain Serving
- About 8 oz raw mushrooms, sliced or shredded (pick your favorite kinds!
- 3 medium leeks, sliced (white & light green parts only)
- 0.5 oz oil or butter
- 1 oz dry pearl barley (See note on weighing grains dry below)
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional – adds flavor. The alcohol cooks off and doesn’t negatively affect me, but use your own judgement if you are worried about it)
- About 2 cups vegetable broth (adding more as needed)
- In a small saucepan, begin cooking your 1 oz of dry barley according to package directions, using vegetable broth as the liquid.
- Meanwhile, put the sliced mushrooms in a cast iron pan or other type of skillet, dry (with no oil added) and cook for a few minutes on low-medium heat to evaporate most of the moisture in the mushrooms.
- Add the oil or butter.
- Raise heat to medium-high, and brown the mushrooms, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the leeks for a few minutes towards the end to soften and brown them a little.
- Remove the mushrooms and leeks from the heat and weigh them. You will probably need to add some more veggies in your meal. Make a side salad or have a side of raw veggies, be creative!
- Add the mushrooms and leeks to the partially cooked barley.
- Add the wine.
- Continue to stir and check on the simmering risotto, cooking until the barley is fully cooked and adding veggie broth as needed. This part takes about 15 -20 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper, and fresh or dried herbs (thyme, chives, oregano)
Note: Risotto is usually made by adding the liquid and grain to the mushrooms. Because barley takes longer to cook than rice, I think it works better to partially cook the barley for about 30 minutes before adding the veggies and then starting the slow simmering process, so that the veggies don’t get too soggy and soft. This shortcut also cuts down on the time it takes to make this meal.
- A Note on Weighing Grains: When weighing grains, we usually weigh them cooked. In a context like this where it’s hard to separate the categories, I weigh my grain dry, and I use this chart to determine the ratio of dry volume to cooked volume. For example, pearl barley quadruples in volume from 1/2 cup to 2 cups, so I use 1 oz dry pearl barley for my grain serving which will cook to roughly 4 oz cooked grain (my grain serving). I stick to this bright line of weighing my grain dry according to this rule, or weighing it cooked.