Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thyme-Scented Pearled Barley with Brown Beech Mushrooms

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Serves 2
Time: less than 45 minutes

Have you ever tried brown beech mushrooms? Uncooked, they are super soft and light but, once they hit heat, become sort of snappy and chewy and almost noodle-like. After trying a handful in soup, I decided they would taste good with another soft and toothsome ingredient like pearled barley, so I mixed them together to see what would happen. Super simple and made slightly indulgent with a layer of melty vegan cheese on the bottom, scooping up each bite offers an array of thyme- and parsley-kissed textures that's also incredibly filling. Serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner for a comforting and savory dish that's perfect for these last few weeks of winter.
1/2 cup pearled barley
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp olive oil
3-4 shallots, sliced
2 cups brown beech mushrooms, (or any sliced mushroom)
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
2 TB sherry
Daiya swiss-style slices, or your favorite sliced white vegan cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the barley and broth into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, tilting the lid just a crack to let some of the steam escape. 

Continue to simmer for 30 minutes, increasing or decreasing the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. 

Remove the lid and allow any leftover liquid to reduce for about 5 minutes. Test it for doneness—the barley should be expanded to twice its size and there should be a little liquid left in it. Place a lid over the barley and remove it from the heat.

In a separate saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in the shallots and saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Next, add in the mushrooms for about 5 minutes more, until slightly softened. Sprinkle with the dried thyme, then turn the heat up to high. Wait about one minute, then deglaze the pan with the sherry. Stir until the liquid is absorbed/reduced, then remove the pan from the heat.

Combine the barley with the shallot/mushroom mixture. 

To serve, place a slice of Daiya swiss onto the bottom of a bowl, then spoon he hot barley over the top. Sprinkle with some of the fresh barley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


  1. I was going to say no, I don't think I've tried brown beech mushrooms, until I clicked on the Wikipedia link and realized that yes, I have tried shimeji mushrooms. This looks like a lovely wholesome meal, and the pretty plate really presents it well!

  2. That looks so good! I haven't heard of brown beech mushrooms but I have definitely had the mushrooms in that picture! (Not so good with names I guess!) I love the sound of this dish; it seems so comforting and delicious.

    1. Thanks Randi! Because of the packaging, I always called them o-shimeji, but heard them referred to as brown beech in a cooking show. Much easier to say and spell!

  3. It looks really good! I've never eaten that many mushrooms in one sitting though, nor have I ever had that particular kind of mushroom. I think I'll have to try the mushrooms first before I make the whole recipe. Also randomly, I really like those bowls.

    1. Thanks! I found the bowl at TJ Maxx in their clearance aisle, and it's one of my favorite dishes to use!


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