Barley Risotto With Mushrooms

4 to 6 servings

This pressure-cooker preparation has a couple of things to recommend it besides its rich flavor: There's no constant stirring, as with regular risottos, and the use of barley instead of rice avoids foam-ups. Adapted from "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" by Lorna Sass (Clarkson Potter, November 2006).

1 ounce dried porcini or other dried mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups finely chopped (rinsed) leeks, white and light green parts

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

1 cup medium pearl barley, plus 2 tablespoons black (nice for color) or pearl barley

1/3 cup dry sherry or red wine

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

3 to 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, to taste, plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley


Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the mushrooms and place them in a heatproof glass measuring cup. Pour the water on top and set aside.

In a 4-quart or larger pressure cooker, heat the oil. Add the leeks and fennel seeds and cook for 4 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the leeks have softened. Add the barley and stir until lightly coated with the oil. Add the sherry or red wine and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add the broth, the soaked mushrooms and their soaking liquid, taking care to leave behind any grit that has settled to the bottom of that liquid.

Lock the pressure cooker lid in place and bring the cooker up to high pressure over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure at high and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat; wait a minute or two before releasing the pressure. Then carefully remove the lid, pointing the steam-release valve away from you to avoid any escaping steam.

Set the uncovered cooker over medium-high heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the barley is tender (it will still be slightly chewy) and the mixture has thickened to a porridge-like consistency. Add the Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste and the parsley, stirring to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the risotto among individual bowls and sprinkle more cheese on top. Serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 6): 202 calories, 8 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 133 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to