Posted by: lornasass | November 27, 2009


Risotto made with pearl barley is a delightfully chewy alternative to traditional risotto made with white Arborio rice. In this recipe, the barley’s starchy center melts into a luscious sauce infused with the earthy flavor of wild mushrooms. It’s fun to throw in a little black barley for visual interest.

Vegans coming for dinner?  Make this a vegan entree by using vegetable instead of chicken broth.

Most people will be content to eat this risotto as an entrée accompanied by a side salad or steamed green vegetable. It also makes a lovely side dish for roasted meats or osso bucco.


Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped leeks or onions

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

1 cup pearl barley

2 tablespoons purple barley (optional)

1/3 cup dry red wine or sherry

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup) dried porcini or other dried mushrooms, rinsed

1 cup frozen peas

3 to 6 tablespoons grated parmesan or romano cheese, plus more for garnish and to pass at the table

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 4-quart or larger pressure cooker, heat the oil. Add the leeks and fennel and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until leeks are softened, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the barley, lightly coating it with oil. Add the sherry and continue cooking until it evaporates. Stir in the broth and dried mushrooms.

Lock the pressure cooker lid in place and bring it to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain the pressure at high and cook for 18 minutes. Release the pressure by placing the cooker under cold running water. Remove the lid, tilting it away from your face to avoidthe escaping steam.

Set the cooker over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the barley is tender (it will still be slightly chewy) and the mixture has thickened to a porridge consistency, about 5 minutes. Shortly before the risotto is done, stir in the peas.

Turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan and parsley. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the risotto into bowls or onto lipped plates. Dust it with a little more cheese and serve the extra cheese in a small bowl.


  1. I have just purchased a new PC, and am thrilled. It is my 2nd PC. The first was a 70’s Presto that always scared me! Now I am ready to dive into PC cooking.

  2. I just made this with no oil and veganized – the fennel makes this really special, I think. Used Asparagus instead of peas, and nutritional yeast and lemon juice instead of Parmesan. Awesome!

    • Lovely to hear from you and so glad you enjoyed and made it your own!

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