Back on the Barley

[donotprint] I was never really a risotto kinda girl, probably owing to the fact that I suffered from eating disorders for the best part of my life and a creamy cheesy heavy risotto was never really on the cards. The whole concept of a meal based around a grain would have sent my head spinning and more than likely me running in the opposite direction.

I now consume grains a plenty, and love a good creamy, yet vegan, cheesy sauce. The fantastic thing about vegan sauces is how much of a nutritional punch they can pack simply by adding in nutritional yeast.

Although I love my grains I don’t partake in those which are not wholegrain and so when it comes to risotto white refined rice isn’t an option. Pearl Barley on the other hand is a fantastic wholegrain alternative.

Pearl Barley is barley which has been hulled (all barley must be hulled to make it edible) and further processed to remove the bran.

Don’t let that put you off though. It’s still a good source of fiber, protein and several B vitamins vital in metabolism and energy production. It also contains a significant amount of Iron and Selenium; it’s far from being stripped of its nutrients!

I love how it retains a bit of bite yet plumps up so beautifully. I had a craving for some mushrooms…ok a whole load of mushrooms so I splurged and picked up a bag of oysters, shitakes and portobello mushrooms from The Happy Pear.

Plenty of garlic, kale, caramalised onions and thyme along with a creamy ever so slightly cheesy sauce. It was everything I longed for and more. Button or chestnut (cremini) mushrooms just wouldn’t have done in this instance. Sometimes life calls for a little bit of luxury! Smile

An incredibly satisfying dish, another one handed meal, ideal for those multi-tasking/reading lunch breaks I’ve been having lately. You could say that I inhaled it….and wished I had of made it last a little longer; the only thing for it is to make it over again! What I ever did without nutritional yeast and Alpro Almond milk in my life is beyond me!

What’s your favourite type of risotto? Do you use rice, barley or another grain? [/donotprint]

Mushroom Kale Pearly Barley Risotto


Servings – 1

Preparation Time – 5 minutes

Cooking Time – 45 minutes


Caramelised Onions

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water


  • 1.5 cups of mushrooms (oyster, shitake, portobello) roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1/2 cup steamed kale
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Thyme to garnish


  1. Place onions and a drop of the water to a pot and lightly fry until soft. Lower heat to a simmer and add in remaining water along with balsamic vinegar. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, adding a little more water if they dry up.
  2. Meanwhile place garlic in to another pot with a drop of water and cook for 2 minutes. Add in mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Place mushrooms and garlic in a bowl to one side.
  3. Place pearl barley in to the now empty pot, cover with water and almond milk and leave to simmer for 40 minutes.
  4. Whisk in nutritional yeast and mustard, stir back in mushrooms, holding back a few for topping, along with garlic, chopped thyme, liquid aminos and black pepper. Allow to heat through for 2-3 minutes before stirring in steamed/blanched kale.
  5. Stir through half of the caramelised onions and serve topped with remaining onions, mushrooms and fresh thyme.

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      1. Is only because I was about to go off and make it! 😉 Is simmering away as we speak… although I had to settle for chestnut mushrooms instead. Your recipe popped up in perfect timing as I’m running low on groceries and this fits the bill perfectly!

  1. i love creamy arborio risotto rice and mix it with quinoa for the nutritional punch and benefits. while i keep making barley risotto to it never becames as creamy and i feel as though the arborio rice and quinoa version is much lighter. love all ur meals! cant wait for the quinoa bake and cornbread cakes recipe!

  2. Mmmh! This was a special yet not too work-involved weekday lunch. And what did you do to me? I used to think I disliked balsamic vinegar but I can’t get enough of it since trying your recipes!

    The idea of using barley in a risotto is great seeing as it cooks up way creamier than other grains. I’m already playing with the idea of other barley-sottos/barl-ottos 🙂 …