Mushroom Barley Risotto with Sorrel

Spring is just around the corner. Can you feel it? If you look carefully you’ll certainly catch glimpses of it popping up through the ground and budding on the trees. I’m particularly eager and observant this year because this is my first full spring here in Charlottesville. I’m constantly comparing the weather here with the one in my former hometown, Providence, reveling in the sunny above-50-degree days we’ve accumulated thus far, and enjoying meals on our back deck whenever possible.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, however, there’s no harm in embracing the warming, comfort foods of winter. This mushroom barley risotto comes to mind. Mushroom and barley are a classic combination, but I decided to notch up the flavor profile by balancing their sweetness with the lemony bite of sorrel. Never tried sorrel? It happens to be in season right now, at least here in Virginia. If you’re lucky enough to find a local source, I encourage you to give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised, as I was, when you take your first bite. It is tangy and refreshing. In addition to being the perfect foil for the mushrooms and barley in this dish, it would be a great addition to a mixed greens salad.

Mushroom Barley Risotto with Sorrel
a Ginger and Berries creation
Serves 2-3 as a main

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large red onion, diced
4 ounces sorrel, stems removed (about 3 cups)
1 cup pearled barley

1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned with a paper towel and sliced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 – 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into shards using a sharp vegetable peeler

  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer.
  2. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sorrel and cook an additional minute until the sorrel begins to wilt. Add the barley and toast for 1-2 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add a 1/2 cup of the warmed vegetable stock and stir into the barley until absorbed. Continue in this manner, adding one cup of stock at a time. Allow the barley to fully absorb the stock before adding the next cup. Lower the heat to low if the stock is absorbed too quickly. You don’t need to stir constantly, but stir often (every three minutes or so). Use a wooden spoon so that you can scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot every time you stir. The sorrel will transform into an olive green paste.
  4. While the barley is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring 2-3 times, until the mushrooms have softened and are slightly browned, approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  5. After the last cup of stock has been added and absorbed into the barley, add the parsley to the barley and season generously with black pepper. Stir, taste, and add salt if necessary.
  6. Scoop into bowls and top each bowl with sauteed mushrooms and cheese.
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jean - March 8, 2011 - 7:43 pm

this looks exceptionally scrumptious / i would love a bowl!

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