Barley Pilaf, Mushrooms and Aged Gouda


by Priscilla Martel

Make this Big Batch of seasoned barley and use it for any number of finished dishes. It’s a goes-with-everything preparation method I use whenever cooking whole grains. Once on hand, the cooked barley sneaks into green salads and soups. The finished dish here is an accompaniment to braised greens and a piece of grilled fish, meat or vegetables. Or the kind of satisfying lunch called for on a chilly day.

Yield: 8 servings, ¾ cup each

For the Big Batch of Barley:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic, 2 cloves

1 cup thinly sliced leeks from the white part, approximately one fat leek

1 cup fine diced carrot, approximately 1 fat carrot

Salt and pepper to taste

1 ½ cups pearl barley

4 cups vegetable stock or water

A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or pinch dry thyme


For the Sautéed Mushrooms and Wine:

1 Tablespoon oil

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

One 3.5 ounce box shiitake mushrooms, stems removed sliced thinly

One 8 ounce box cremini mushrooms, quartered

4 Tablespoons red vermouth or red wine


For Serving:

3 handfuls of fresh spinach, stems removed

Aged Gouda or parmesan cheese, as needed


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat until sizzling. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds to release some of its aroma without burning.
  2. Add the leeks and carrots. Raise the heat just enough to help evaporate any moisture that clings to them. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown lightly. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Add the barley and cook for a minute then add 4 cups of stock and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is evaporated and the barley is chewy tender.
  4. Prepare the mushrooms while the barley cooks. Heat the oil and a Tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat until it sizzles. Add the mushrooms, stir and let cook until they release their juices then start to brown, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the red vermouth and cook until reduced. Then stir in the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, toss the spinach into the hot barley, reheating it if necessary. Stir until it wilts. Season the barley liberally with salt and pepper.
  6. Reheat the mushrooms if necessary. Serve each portion of barley with a few spoonfuls of the mushrooms. Shave aged Gouda cheese over the dish.


See the recipe at