This Herb Mushroom Barley is made with simple ingredients, yet full of flavor and texture. It's easy to prepare and makes for a great side dish.
4tbspextra virgin olive oildivided
8ouncesbaby bella mushroomssliced
7clovesgarlic(1 tbsp, pressed)
1-2tbspaged balsamic vinegar*
6sprigsfresh thyme(1 tsp stripped leaves)
Start by cooking the barley. I find it easiest to cook it in the rice cooker: combine 1 cup of barley with 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Press the start button, and let it do its thing. It usually takes about 30 minutes. If you don't have a rice cooker, there should be instructions on the package for how to cook it on the stove.***
In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium high heat, then add the mushrooms. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, until browned.
Add the garlic and spinach, and cook for about 2 more minutes, until the spinach is wilted.
When the barley has finished cooking, place it in a large mixing bowl and add the mushroom mixture.
Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 or 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (see notes), and all the herbs. Toss well, and taste for final seasoning adjustments. I'll usually add a touch more salt (about 1/4 tsp) and a few more cracks of black pepper. Enjoy!
*If you use 1 tbsp of balsamic, it's a nice accent flavor but not overbearing. If you use 2 tbsp, it turns it more into a "warm salad" in flavor. I like 2 tbsp personally, but feel free to add whatever amount you like, to taste.**The basil and oregano are both loosely packed amounts, then chopped.***The pearled barley I purchase says you can simmer 1 cup of barley in 3 cups of water for 1.25 hours, to cook it. I recommend following the directions on the package you purchase.