Barley with Mushrooms

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


This barley with mushrooms recipe is a healthy, meatless side dish. This tasty recipe comes together quickly and uses a grain that you can feel good about.


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. of sliced button or cremini mushrooms
  • 3 medium-sized leeks
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 11 oz. (311g, about 2 cups) quick-cooking barley (that’s one typical boxful)*
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar


  1. Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms.
  2. Stir to coat them in oil and then leave them alone for a minute or so until the undersides start to brown. Stir.
  3. Cook for 3-5 more minutes until they’re lightly browned all over, stirring once or twice.
  4. Meanwhile, grab a leek and locate the hairy end (the root end). Trim off the roots by cutting about 1/4″ off of the bottom of the leek. Then make a long cut through the leak from where the hairy end was up to where the coarse green leaves begin.
  5. At this point, you’ve cut the cylindrical base of the leek in half lengthwise. Give the leek a quarter turn on your board and make another long cut from ex-hairy end to coarse green leaves, thus quartering the cylinder.
  6. Grasp the leek by the coarse green leaves just past where your two long cuts end. Starting at the ex-hairy end, chop the leek up by making cuts that are ¼” apart perpendicular to the two long cuts you previously made.
  7. Keep chopping up the length of the quartered cylinder until you get to those coarse green leaves. Discard the leaves and put the chopped leek into a big bowl. Repeat the cutting and chopping of leeks with the other two leeks gathering all the chopped leeks into the large bowl.
  8. Put the bowl in the sink and fill it with lots of cool water. Swish the leeks around. Any dirt that was trapped inside the leeks’ layers will fall out and sink tot he bottom of the bowl. 
  9. Scoop out the leeks and discard the dirty water. Sometimes I do this rinsing process twice if the leeks were particularly dirty. (Lately, the leeks have been super-clean and I’ve even gotten away with just rinsing them in a colander instead of using the bowl method.)
  10. Add the chopped leeks to the mushrooms along with ¼ teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  11. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until the leeks are softened a bit.
  12. Add the barley, the chicken broth, the water, and the bay leaf along with ½ teaspoon more of salt. Stir. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the barley is tender.
  13. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes (all of the liquid should be absorbed at this point).
  14. Drizzle in the cider vinegar, fluff the barley with a fork and serve.


*Quick-cooking barley is sold in a box. In my current grocery store, it is right near the normal barley, which is near the rice. In my grocery store in Toronto, I think I remember it being near the boxes of tabbouleh. That was about 3 feet away from the barley, so close by, but not right next to it. There are two brands that I know of.