Easy and Healthy Pearl Barley Risotto Recipe with Mushrooms, Goat Cheese and Sage: Creamy perfection packed with nutrients and exquisite flavors! Ultimate gourmet comfort food to feed your soul!
Risotto is one of my favorite dishes. I mean, show me a person who doesn’t like it!
My experiments with risotto started with brown rice risotto with asparagus and spring greens and ended with this absolutely gorgeous barley risotto with mushrooms. OK, maybe I will experiment more. And I’m pretty sure I will, sice there are so many grains to explore (think farro, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat…) But let me just say, this risotto is a pure perfection!
Imagine nutty barley coated in creamy goat cheese with umami-packed chanterelles and astringent crispy sage… Perfect comfort food for the season which is not only incredibly delicious but also easy and healthy! Keep reading and I’ll tell you how to make it the best way.
Health Benefits of Barley Risotto
High starch arborio rice is a traditional grain used in risotto. It creates a creamy base for risotto without making it mushy. The starch is released when you cook it slowly, adding one ladle of liquid at a time. This process results in a delicious traditional Italian risotto.
However, there are a few problems here:
- it’s time-consuming (waiting for the rice to cook al dente will take a minimum of 20 minutes not counting the preparation time);
- it’s labor intense (you have to stir it constantly);
- it’s unhealthy (white rice>fast carbs>not good).
While developing this recipe, my goal was to increase the nutritional value of risotto by using complex carbs like barley and to make the recipe easy. I’m proud to announce that both of my goals were accomplished!
I love the traditional risotto but believe me you won’t miss it a second after you try this barley risotto. It’s so versatile, rich, robust and chewy that makes it perfect for a date night, family gathering or even a weeknight dinner.
Barley risotto with chanterelles is a truly gourmet thing, while being healthy and 100% guilt free.
Barley is so nutrient-dense, I don’t even know where to start. Dietary fiber, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, selenium, phosphorus, chromium… It contains so many minerals and also vitamins B1 and B3.
What does it make to your body? Being rich in dietary fiber, barley provides friendly bacteria to your large intestine, improving your digestion, keeping your colon healthy and making you feel full longer.
Barley lowers your cholesterol levels, helps prevent heart disease (the leading cause of death in the U.S.!), regulates blood sugar levels, helps protect against atherosclerosis and lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
As for the chanterelles, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and protein. They are a perfect addition to a healthy barley risotto!
How to Make Healthy Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
I was lucky enough to pick fresh chanterelles for this barley risotto myself, but you can always buy them at your local store. The season varies around the globe, but they are usually available through the whole fall.
If they are not available at your location, you can always substitute them for other mushrooms. However, I really recommend you to use chanterelles for the best result because they pair perfectly with goat cheese and sage.
Before you cook chanterelles, you have to get rid of all the dirt and pieces of leaves that are often stuck to mushrooms. They soak water really fast, so better use a paper towel or a pastry brush to remove all the dirt or quickly wash and leave them on a kitchen towel to dry.
For the barley risotto there is no point in using the traditional method of adding one ladle of liquid at a time and stirring constantly. Isn’t that great? But don’t worry, barley risotto will come out creamy anyway.
You’ll need to cook chopped shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, add barley and coat it with oil, add white wine and let it evaporate. I love Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio both for cooking and as a lovely accompaniment for this barley risotto 😉
Then add ALL the broth to the skillet and cover it with a lid. I’m not paid for writing this but I must say that I LOVE my KitchenAid cookware so much!
The skillet that is on the picture is the one I use the most. It’s dishwasher safe, heatproof, nonstick and simply the best! You don’t need any other cookware, trust me!
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Cook sage leaves in generous amount of olive oil until they change color and transfer to a paper towel. I like to use tongs for that, as well as for cooking mushrooms.
Add roughly chopped chanterelles to the oil and cook until the released liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes on medium heat. There is nothing like the aroma of chanterelles sizzling on the stove!
Once the barley is cooked until al dente but a bit of liquid is still there (about 40-45 minutes), add the mushrooms, goat cheese and sage to the skillet and combine. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve right away garnished with a few beautiful chanterelles, goat cheese and sage leaves. Enjoy!
Here is a full recipe for you. Hope you’ll love it: