Please tell me you like mushrooms.
You really need to like mushrooms so you can make this tasty casserole.
Three kinds of mushrooms, carrots, and celery meet broth and barley for an amazing side dish or vegetarian meal.
With the holidays coming up sooner than we’d all probably care to admit, I think this should be a contender for a simple and easy, yet elegant and extremely flavorful side to roast turkey, chicken, or beef.
Here’s what you need:
Pearled Barley, Mushrooms (White Button, Crimini, and Shitake), Carrot, Celery, Onion, Butter, Thyme, Vegetable Broth, Sherry, Salt & Pepper.
Preheat the oven t0 350 degrees.
Like so many good recipes, this one starts with chopping up some good basic, aromatic veggies. Finely chop 1 large onion, 1 carrot, and 1 rib of celery.
I have just over 1 pound of assorted mushrooms. I’m using white button mushrooms (regular old mushrooms), crimini mushrooms (sometimes called baby portobellos), and shitake mushrooms. These all came from my neighborhood grocery store. I tend to stay away from pre-sliced mushrooms because (1) they’re more expensive and slicing mushrooms is not difficult, (2) who knows if they washed them (or their hands), and (3) who knows how long those poor sliced mushrooms have been sitting there in plastic wrap.
Buy some whole mushrooms, give them a quick rinse or brush them off or do whatever you like to do to clean your mushrooms, remove the stems (especially if you have shitakes) and slice them up.
Grab several sprigs of fresh thyme and pull the little leaves off the stems. Give the thyme leaves a quick chop until you have about 2 teaspoons. If you don’t have fresh, you can use 3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a very large pan over medium high heat. I’m using a non-stick pan — if you don’t have a big non-stick pan, be sure you watch your veggies carefully and stir often to keep them from sticking.
Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms to the pan.
Season with the fresh thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt & pepper. Add 1½ cups of pearled barley to the pan and stir so that all of the barley and vegetables are coated in the melted butter.
Be sure you are using Pearled Barley and NOT instant or quick cooking barley. Instant barley will become a gloppy mess. Pearled Barley is sold in a bag in my store near the dried beans.
Cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the vegetables start to become tender and the mushrooms have begun to slightly brown.
While the barley and veggies are sautéing, bring 4 cups or 1 (32 ounce) box of vegetable broth to a boil in a separate pot. When the broth comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup sherry to the broth.
Butter or grease a 9×13 inch shallow casserole dish. Spoon the vegetables and barley into the dish and pour the hot broth over the top.
Looks and smells plenty good as is but it needs to go in the oven. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Because the mushrooms have such a hearty flavor, this would also make a great vegetarian meal served with a nice green salad.
It’s also plenty good leftover for lunch the next day.
Barley as a side dish has been such a revelation to me. It’s not just for soup anymore!
Here’s the recipe – adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever