Creamy Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach

14 50 414
Ingredients Minutes Calories
Prep Cook Servings
20 min 30 min 4
Creamy Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach
Health Highlights
Creamy risotto made with barley instead of traditional Arborio rice, topped with sauteed garlic mushrooms and spinach.


454 gm Baby portobello mushroom (may sub with cremini)
171 gm Portobello mushroom (these are the large mushroom "caps")
4 cup Vegetable stock/broth, low sodium
4 tbsp Olive Oil, Extra Virgin ((divided))
5 clove(s) Garlic (minced, divided))
454 gm Spinach (fresh)
1 1/2 tsp Salt (kosher; (divided))
3/4 tsp Black pepper ((divided))
1 bulb(s) Fennel (large; (stem and outer leaves removed; cored and diced))
1/2 large Yellow onion (diced (about 1 1/2 cups))
1 cup Pearl barley, dry
1 tsp, ground Thyme, dried (dried)
1 leaf Bay leaf
1/2 cup White wine, dry


  1. Brush off the mushrooms with a barely damp paper towel. Cut the baby portobellos (creminis) into thick slices. Remove the stems from the portobello caps, cut the caps into thick slices and halve. In a medium pot, heat the stock to just below a simmer.
  2. In a wide, deep pot such as a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 clove minced garlic and sauté until the mushrooms are browned, soft, and give up their liquid. With a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside, then pour the mushroom’s leftover liquid into the saucepan along with the chicken stock.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add another 1 tablespoon olive oil to the Dutch oven. Wait a minute to ensure the temperature of the pot decreases (this will prevent the garlic from burning). Add 3 cloves minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 15 seconds, watching carefully so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the spinach, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring to combine. Cover the pot and let steam for 2 minutes, then uncover, increase the heat to high, and stir for another minute, just until the spinach wilts. With a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a bowl and set aside. Discard any excess liquid that has cooked out of the spinach.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat. Add the sliced fennel and chopped onion and cook stirring often, until the vegetables soften 3 to 5 minutes. Add the barley and stir to coat with the butter and olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then add the dried thyme, bay leaf, remaining garlic clove, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 1 additional minute. Add the wine. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add 2 full ladles of the stock to the barley. Stir and simmer over medium heat until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Constant stirring isn’t necessary, but do watch the pot and stir often. Continue adding the stock, 2 ladlefuls at a time, until it is all absorbed and the barley is creamy, but maintains a bit of chew, 25 to 30 minutes total.
  6. To serve: Ladle the barley into bowls, then top with the spinach and mushrooms. Enjoy immediately.


*Pearl barley is barley with the hull removed and is widely available in most grocery stores. **Alternative method to save time (but increase dishes): Saute the mushrooms, then the garlic in a second pot, while the barley is cooking in the first. This multitasking will result in a faster dinner, but one extra dish to wash.

Nutrition Facts

Per Portion

Calories 414
Calories from fat 142
Calories from saturated fat 22.4
Total Fat 15.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 20.3 g
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 1103 mg
Potassium 1691 mg
Total Carbohydrate 57 g
Dietary Fiber 14.2 g
Sugars 9.2 g
Protein 12.7 g

Dietary servings

Per Portion

Grain 2.1
Vegetables 6.4

Energy sources