Mushroom Barley Risotto With Chicken

Mushroom Barley Risotto
Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN, CDN
Total Time 75 min
Prep 15 min, Cook 60 min
Yield 6, 1.25 cup portions (263 cals)

Mushrooms are not only packed with savory umami, but they are also a good source of B vitamins and selenium, an antioxidant that may play a role in reducing risk of chronic disease. Mushrooms contain a lot of water, making them a low calorie fungi. They release a lot of their water during cooking and are a classic addition to a risotto dish.

This dish adds lean chicken breast for protein and instead of arborio rice, uses pearled barley for a heartier, whole grain base. Barley contains high levels of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber with cancer fighting properties. Beta-glucan may also play a beneficial role in insulin resistance. Be sure to top your barley risotto with plenty of fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5.5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste 

Preparation

  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are turning golden brown.
  2. Add the chopped chicken to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked through.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.
  4. In a small pot, bring the broth to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  5. Heat the olive oil in the large skillet over medium high heat and add the onion. Saute for 5 minutes.
  1. Add the barley to the onion and saute for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the warm broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, until most of the broth is absorbed, stirring frequently.
  2. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until the barley is tender, about 50 minutes.
  3. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the mushroom and chicken mixture.
  4. Finish the dish with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan. Add additional salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

So you bought a bag of barley and are thinking, "what do I do with the rest of the bag?" Try cooked barley as a breakfast cereal, a vehicle for grain-based salads, or use it in soup. You can even swap the barley for Italian farro for a variation on the whole grain (and then use the rest to make this herbed farro salad with pomegranate and feta).

As usual, you can swap the chicken for any type of cooked bean.

Love mushrooms? Seek them out at your local farmer's market and experiment with different wild varieties.

For extra vegetable flavor, stir in a handful of chopped spinach during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding an extra splash of broth or water if it becomes too thick.

Whole grains like barley, wheat berries, or farro take a while to cook. This is because the layer of bran surrounding each grain acts as a barrier, slowing down the rate at which water can penetrate to the center. Pearled barley has most of the bran layer removed, but it can still take a long time to cook.

To speed up cooking time, try soaking the barley in water overnight, then drain, rinse and use in recipes. Soaking grains may also increase the availability and absorbability of certain nutrients.

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