Mushroom barley barlotto

Barlotto is a fairly new name for a dish similar to risotto but made from barley instead of rice. Barley has a nutty taste and texture.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main
Servings 4


  • 15 g dried mushrooms eg porcini, shiitake
  • 1-1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 onion or two shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • cup white wine
  • cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 50 g butter
  • 200 g fresh mushrooms button, oyster, portabello, Swiss brown, shiitake etc, sliced
  • 2 handfuls spinach chopped
  • ¾-1 cup Parmesan grated, plus extra to serve
  • 1 knob butter
  • 20 sage leaves


  • Mix dried mushrooms with boiling water in a bowl and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes until soft. Squeeze mushrooms to remove excess liquid and reserve the liquid (it’s like a mushroom stock with tons of flavour). Finely chop the soaked mushrooms and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add barley, lightly frying until barley is toasted (about 2 minutes). Add onion or shallots and garlic and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes).
  • Add wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and 1 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid. Cover partially with a lid and simmer for 45-50 minutes until barley is tender (it will still have a bit of bite to it) and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir a few times during cooking. Turn off heat but leave the lid completely on to allow the barley to keep steaming.
  • Heat 50g butter in a large frying pan, add mushrooms (both dried and fresh) and sauté for 5-6 minutes until soft and golden. If the mushrooms are looking dry in the pan at any time, add a bit of stock to help sauté them.
  • Stir spinach, parmesan and half the cooked mushrooms through the barlotto. Some people like to stir in another knob of butter at this point for extra richness. Season to taste with salt (or a little soy sauce for more depth of flavour) and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Heat knob butter in a frying pan until starting to brown then add sage leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes until crispy.
  • Divide barlotto between plates. Garnish with rest of mushrooms, extra grated or shaved parmesan and fried sage leaves.


This barlotto makes a hearty vegetarian meal and is also good the next day after the barley has had time to soften a little more.
Pearl barley
What is it?
This high-fibre, high-protein whole grain is an excellent alternative to rice or pasta, with a mild, nutty flavour. Pearl barley also makes a wholesome addition to soups and stews.
How do I cook it?
Grains need to be cooked in 2 parts water: 1 part barley for 30-45 minutes or until tender.
Where do I buy it?
Supermarkets and wholefood stores stock pearl barley from a range of different brands, such as Sun Valley and Chantal Organics. Don’t forget to check the bulk bins, too.