Mushroom Barley “Risotto”

Losing weight is up there is the top 5 New Year’s resolutions, and if you’ve pledged to drop a few pounds this year, you may be looking for meal ideas that don’t involve salad. Hearty and comforting, creamy and rich, mushroom barley” risotto” is a great option even if you’re not trying to cut calories.

I used this epicurious recipe as my guide, but had to make a few changes in order to make the recipe work for Andrew and I. Hopefully you enjoy my version! If you are less mushroom-phobic, feel free to skip the blender step – we like the hearty flavor the mushrooms impart but Andrew doesn’t care for their texture, so I always add this simple step. Of course you can make this deliciously vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable stock instead. Skip the butter too and voila, it’s vegan! I’m a multi-tasker like that.

Mushroom Barley “Risotto”

1 c. pearl barley
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 c. chicken broth
8 oz. cremini or portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. shredded chicken or turkey
1 c. fresh spinach, packed
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
salt & pepper, to taste

Combine the mushrooms and broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, sauteing until softened. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper.

Add the barley to the pan and stir for several minutes until toasted. Pour in the wine and allow it to be completely absorbed by the barley, stirring occasionally. Use a ladle to move broth from the saucepan to the skillet, leaving mushrooms in the saucepan. Follow the risotto method – adding broth in half to full cup increments, stir occasionally, and once absorbed, add more.

After all but the last half cup of stock has been absorbed into the barley, move the mushrooms and remaining liquid to a blender. Make sure to hold the top on, as the hot liquid can force flimsier tops off during blending. Blend mushrooms until completely smooth, then add mushroom puree to the barley.

Stir in the chicken and spinach, keeping the skillet over the heat until fully incorporated and warmed through.

 

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