Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wild Mushroom-Barley "Risotto" with Sage

This hearty dish isn't a true risotto, since it's made with pearl barley instead of rice, and the cooking method is actually closer to a pilaf.  The creamy, rich texture of the final product tastes similar to a risotto though.  There are two components to my post tonight: first, a savory porcini stock, which then is used to simmer the barley for the final result.

For the Rich Porcini Stock:
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 5 cups warm water, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup vegan dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 whole garlic head, cut in half
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 flat-leaf parsley sprig
  • 1 fresh sage sprig
1. Combine the porcini mushrooms and 2 cups warm water in a bowl.  Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.  Drain the mixture through a colander over a bowl, reserving the liquid.

2. Rinse the mushrooms, and transfer to a large saucepan.  Strain the reserved liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the pan.  Add the remaining 3 cups warm water and all the remaining ingredients for the stock.

3. Bring to a boil over medium heat (this won't take nearly as long as you'd think, since you're starting with warm water).  Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.  Strain through a colander and discard the solids.  If you prefer to use this stock for soup or a recipe other than this risotto, then stop reading right now.  It will keep in the fridge up to 3 days, or can be frozen up to 2 months.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (about 1 cup), Calories 53

And now for the risotto:

  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 recipe Rich Porcini Stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/3 cup grated vegan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Combine the barley and 2 cups water in a bowl.  Let stand for 2 hours; drain.

2. Place the prepared porcini stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion; cook for 5 minutes.  Add the shiitake mushrooms and sea salt; cook for 3 minutes.

4. Add the barley, porcini stock, and sage.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, butter, and black pepper.

Note: Tonight I used Galaxy Foods' vegan mozzarella block.  Use a different vegan cheese if you prefer of course.

Great side dishes for this meal include roasted winter vegetables (think carrots, parsnips, and turnips) perhaps glazed in a touch of the leftover red wine from the porcini stock.  I also added a salad of watercress in bottled dressing, which was a light, peppery contrast to the earthy risotto.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (about 2/3 cup), Calories 191

Tasting Notes:
One of the better barley-and-mushroom dishes I've had, out of many I've made. The Rich Porcini Stock adds a depth of flavor, and the creaminess of the butter stirred in just at the end is great. The sage got lost under all the savory mushroom taste; I recommend stirring in a little fresh sage just before serving, or garnishing with sage sprigs.


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