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Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Barley Risotto

In this hearty, heavenly dish, sweet caramelized onions, meaty sauteed mushrooms and bright roasted red peppers flavor this lovely barley risotto.

After a long, hard day at work, when time allows, I love making risotto. The process is meditative. It’s a symphony of small additions of liquid and stirring that requires patience, attention and time.

I love how it forces me to slow down. Contemplate. Meditate.

And I love the results: the creamy, flavorful, comforting results. Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Barley Risotto is a savory treat.

But it’s also a little different.

Traditional risotto is made with arborio rice. But that’s not the only grain that can be cooked slowly with small additions of wine and stock until it plumps and becomes delightfully creamy.

The process of making this Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Barley Risotto is similar to traditional risotto. I make this in my trusty cast-iron, ceramic-coated Dutch oven. This ensures that the rice dish doesn’t stick during the cooking process.

But the end result of this recipe is different than a traditional risotto. The flavor if nuttier and the texture is firmer, thanks to the use of barley.

The creamy sauce that develops during cooking is delightful, as with any risotto. Sweet caramelized onions melt into the creamy sauce. Meaty mushrooms and bright roasted red peppers dot the sauce, giving contrast and dimension to the flavor.

It’s heavenly. It’s hearty. And at the end of a long and difficult day, it’s just the right thing to meditate over a stove making.

Ready to make some too?

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Barley Risotto

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Barley Risotto

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus additional, as neeed
  • 1 8-oz. package raw sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • ⅔ cup diced roasted red peppers


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions, salt well and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown -- about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden and soft.
  2. Push the onions to one side of the pot and add the barley. Increase heat to medium and toast for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir well to combine. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the stock a little at a time, allowing it to fully absorb before adding more. Continue until the barley is plump and chewy, and sauce is creamy.
  3. While the risotto is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned -- about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir the Romano cheese into the barley mixture. Add the mushrooms and roasted red peppers. Stir well. Taste, and season as desired with salt and pepper.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 550Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 633mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 41g


Monday 2nd of March 2020

I love barley! So excited to risotto-fy it.

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