June 9th, 2021


I was reminded of this recipe twice this week. First, when a lovely reader requested some recipes using barley – this hearty grain can be grown in New Zealand, unlike rice that is more often used for a risotto-type recipe. And then again this morning when I was visiting the Nelson Farmers’ Market and came across a tray of fresh oyster mushrooms. I knew I had to make this barley orzotto again, and thought it would be a good one to share here. It is the kind of hearty nosh that is perfect for these winter months.

This recipe calls for both fresh mushrooms (I used freshly harvested oyster mushrooms) that are sauteed with garlic to fold through at the end, and dried mushrooms that are cooked into the orzotto for depth of flavour. Dried mushrooms are available from bulk and specialty food stores, and are worth their weight in gold – a little goes a long way.

Garlic Mushroom & Barley Orzotto

Orzotto is an Italian dish similar to risotto, using pearl barley in place of rice. If preferred, make this recipe with arborio rice and skip the parboiling step, although, the chewy texture of barley truly does compliment the mushrooms. Interestingly, 'orzotto' recipes are often made with orzo (rice-shaped) pasta, however, traditionally orzotto is made from barley as the word orzo in Italian means barley. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • ¾ cup (150g) pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (750ml) vegetable or chicken stock
  • 10 g dried sliced mushrooms - such as porcini
  • 50 g butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 250 g brown button, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • About 30g grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley to serve


  • First, parboil the barley in a saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion and celery until soft but not coloured, about 8 minutes. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan.
  • To the softened onions, add the barley, dried mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the hot stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, until the moisture is absorbed, then add another ladle. Continue until all the stock is used and the barley has a tender chew.
  • While the orzotto is cooking, prepare the garlic mushrooms. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until golden.
  • When the orzotto is ready, fold through the garlic mushrooms, along with the grated parmesan. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Serve immediately, scattered with chopped parsley and extra parmesan to serve. *I served the orzotto alongside roasted pumpkin wedges and wild venison sausages.

Join the Conversation

  1. Yum I made this for dinner tonight and it went down a treat alongside some sautéed silverbeet and pan fried porterhouse steaks. I crumbled some dried mixed Chinese mushrooms as that’s what I had in the pantry, along with some sliced fresh button, Swiss brown, and shiitake mushrooms I picked up from the local farmers market this weekend.

    My 2 year old daughter kept gobbling it up by the handful! Thanks for the lovely winter tummy warmer. Filled the gap perfectly – a beautiful flavour and texture.

    1. Thanks Sarah, that is great to hear. I love that you could use what you have on hand. I try to write my recipes so they can be adapted as needed and to suit what is available. I love this recipe for its earthy hearty goodness.
      Happy cooking 🙂

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