Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto

I find this dish very comforting.  You can use any mushrooms you like; I choose the ones that have lots of flavor. It can be hard to work out what portion to give everyone; but I find two big dollops of risotto per person is about right- the total meal should be the size of two fists. Barley takes ages to cook compared to risotto rice, but persevere as it has a great texture.


Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Dietary Info: Wheat Free


  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
  • 140g Pearl Barley
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 litre chicken stock, hot
  • 500g mixed mushrooms, cut into 3mm pieces (I like chestnut, oyster, shiitake and porcini)
  • 200g curly Kale, roughly chopped
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated


  • Put the groundnut oil in a non-stick pan. Add the shallots and garlic and set over a low heat.  Cook for about 3 minutes until soft.
  • Add the barley to the pan and stir for 1 minute to coat the grains.
  • Add the wine, bring to the boil and cook off the alcohol. This will take about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and add the stock to the pan one ladleful at a time. Stir every few minutes.  When the liquid has dissolved, it is time to add another ladleful.
  • After 20 minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan.  Continue to add stock and stir as before.
  • Steam the kale for a few minutes until it is limp.
  • When the barley is cooked (you can tell by tasting), add the frozen peas. In total, the barley takes about 40 minutes to cook.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan.

To serve

  • Serve family style on the table, dishing up two fists’ worth of risotto per person, with the kale either stirred through or on the side.

Jennifer’s Tip

The better your stock, the better the dish will taste- make sure you add the stock hot to allow the other ingredients to continue cooking. To make this vegetarian you can use vegetable stock and substitute an alternative hard cheese for the Parmesan.

This recipe is from Jennifer’s book, The Diet for Food Lovers available on Amazon (The Orion Publishing Group)