I originally posted this blog in 2015, but it lent itself so well to this section that I updated some of the Substitutions and Alterations. This is not only good for you but so versatile. I used cremini mushrooms but really any type will do. The secret – not really, is to sear the mushrooms well until all the water has been released and they take on some color. Slice them as thin or thick as you like. If I am lucky enough to find the small white button mushrooms, I actually leave them whole and saute them. Serve it with chicken breast, a piece of fish or stir fried vegetables

  • 1 cup barley, pearl or pot barley – cooked as per package directions
  • 2 cups assorted mushrooms – white button, cremini, shiitake, king oyster etc. sliced or quartered
  • 2 medium sized onions, roughly diced
  • 1 – 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil, salt and pepper

Boil the barley as per directions, drain and reserve
In a heavy bottom frying pan, sauté the onions in olive oil until caramelized, 15 – 20 minutes
Just before they are done, splash some balsamic vinegar on them in the pan – give it a quick stir and remove to a mixing bowl large enough to hold everything
Add some more olive oil to the pan, when hot add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, stir well
Cook for about 10 minutes – you want the water to come out of the mushrooms and evaporate. This will allow the mushrooms to develop flavor as they also caramelize in the pan. It’s important they get caramelized – that’s when you know they are ready!
Add the mushrooms to the caramelized onions and stir
Fluff the barley with a fork, add to the onion and mushroom mixture – stir
Taste, season and taste again
Serve with spicy grilled shrimp or chicken
As always – enjoy!

Substitutions and Alterations:
If mushrooms aren’t your thing, use any of the following, alone or in combination:

  • Butternut squash – sold in cubed form – fresh or frozen. Cut into a small dice and cook in the pan using the same method above until soft
  • Snap or snow peas – don’t sear but toss into a pan with the same amount of butter and olive oil – cook until vibrant color and – taste for correct texture of peas i.e. should still be crunchy
  • Serve with pan fried sole – seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Serve with chicken – use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast (and/or use the spices I told you to get in the first blog), pan sear or bake at 350f for about 20 – 25 minutes – check at 20 minutes – the temperature should be at 170f for thighs and 175f for breast pieces
  • Serve with a beef steak or pork tenderloin – broiled or grilled to perfection – that means medium rare for the steak, 160f for pork
  • Don’t like barley – try this with orzo or some other pasta 
  • Boost the flavor by adding fresh herbs – thyme, a little rosemary and of course – basil
  • Add some chili flake to the hot oil before adding the mushrooms – caramelize as per above
  • And of course – add some bacon to it, and saute the mushrooms in a little of the “bacon extract” – you read it here first! Sounds so much better for you than bacon fat!