Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Arugula

I spent last weekend celebrating an amazing friend who’s getting married in a month. Yep, bachelorette party time. We danced, laughed, frolicked, sang, painted, ate, drank, and were merry. It was a ton of fun to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, but by the time I got home I was ready for slightly more virtuous food than the munchies I had been grazing on all weekend.

How about some barley?

I know, it sounds totally unexciting, but this risotto has been one of my go-to comfort foods all winter long. It’s creamy and satisfying but still packed with healthy ingredients. And it’s adaptable; some spring asparagus would be a lovely addition, or shredded chicken. Heck, I even made it with half barley, half farro once, since that was all I had on hand.

One little tip: stir in all the arugula like the recipe says if you’re confident the risotto will be completely eaten in one sitting. But if you’re planning on leftovers, leave the arugula out and just stir a handful into each serving. Then when you reheat a portion for lunch the next day, add fresh arugula to the reheated leftovers until it slightly wilts. The greens stay nice and fresh that way.

Almost as fresh as my bachelorette friend’s dance moves. Almost.

Barley risotto with mushrooms and arugula

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Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Arugula

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4-5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until mushrooms start to brown and release their juices. Stir in white wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Stir in barley and 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 45-50 minutes, until barley is tender. (Add additional broth during this time if the mixture seems dry.)

Stir in arugula and cook for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. Stir in parmesan and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well.

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