Cooking for One: Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Shallots, and Thyme

Tonight I’m launching a new (my first) series: Cooking for One.  

No, nothing has changed on the homefront.  Nothing but good news, that is: the boyfriend has an exciting new job.  But, this new job requires some travel, and that travel will leave me Cooking For One once or twice a week.  So, I thought – why not share the trials and tribulations here?  I don’t exactly need to up the take-out ante in my life.  Plus, this will give me a chance to test out new recipes and take a few more risks.  Just ask my stovetop.  As I was heating the stock for tonight’s risotto, I totally forgot about it and it just boiled over.  GREAT.  One awesome mess to clean up solo.

I chose risotto, because I like the idea of making it at a leisurely pace.  Risotto always seems so time consuming, and I’m not a fan of the ultra-creamy stuff with loads of cheese.  Decadent, yes – my taste, no.  I wanted to make a risotto that bursted with earthy, fall flavors and would be filling.  Risotto may take time, but it’s not a hard task.  Plus, leftovers are pretty tasty.  (If there are any.)  I had this with an arugula salad dressed with lemon and olive oil and some good bread.  Yum.  

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Shallots, and Thyme

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C pearl barley
  • 3 1/2 C hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – divided
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 T thyme, stripped from the stems and chopped
  • 8 oz crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, sliced
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 T parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the stock in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat, but make sure it stays hot.  Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan.  Saute the shallots and half the garlic in the oil until the shallots begin to caramelize.  Add the barley and saute for about 2 minutes to toast the barley.  Deglaze the pan with the wine, and stir until the barley absorbs the wine.  After that, add the stock about a cup at the time, stirring constantly.  Wait until the stock is completely absorbed before adding more.  This process will take about 40 minutes.  When about 10 minutes of cooking time are left, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the remaining garlic, and saute.  Season with a pinch of red pepper, then add the sliced mushrooms.  Saute, tossing gently, until the mushrooms are tender and lightly browned.  After the risotto has absorbed all the stock, stir in the mushrooms and parsley.  Season with a very generous grind of black pepper and the sea salt.  Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

Serves 1 with some tasty leftovers.

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5 thoughts on “Cooking for One: Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Shallots, and Thyme

  1. My risotto always turns out meh, so I end up not posting it. It just doesn’t taste that great, so I’m thinking your barley version would be a great alternative. I love grains, they’re healthy…Yep. Sounds yummy!

  2. @ thehungryengineer – thanks! It was incredibly satisfying.

    @ jyankee – You know, I feel the same way. When I read blogs after dinner I inavariably have to snack!

    @ kellypea – Risotto has always been tough, because I usually feel rushed to complete it. It was nice to take my time – and, it was tasty. Very toothsome and substantial. It would probably be great with red meat – like a steak – instead of a potato side.

  3. Pingback: Cooking for One: Sausage, Zucchini, and Apple Pithiviers « Appoggiatura

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