A comforting skillet dish, mushroom-barley wild rice pilaf is warming cool season weekend fare or a lovely side dish to serve at fall and winter holidays. Larger portions can be used as a main dish; smaller portions as a hearty side.
What’s nice about combining barley and wild rice is that they can be cooked together, having similar cooking times. They both contrast with and complement one another beautifully as far as texture and mouth feel.
Use as a stuffing for winter squashes or eggplant: This is a nice way to vary the recipe and/or use leftovers creatively. If used for this purpose, cut the carrots into small dice rather than the diagonal slices.
A bit about barley
Inexpensive and widely available, barley deserves to be kept on the culinary radar. Ahead you’ll find a bit about its background, varieties, how to cook it, and ways to use it. Barley can be just as versatile as rice and combines well with bold seasonings.
The most familiar form of barley is the pearled variety. Pearling is accomplished by grinding off the tenacious hulls of the grain with the use of abrasive disks. Pearl barley goes through several pearlings, removing all of the hull, plus most of the bran and germ. Pearl barley isn’t a whole grain, then, but it still has plenty going for it.
Please note, barley isn’t a gluten-free grain. Learn lots more about barley and find many ways to use it in our Guide to Barley.
An intro to wild rice
Wild rice is the seed of a tall aquatic grass that’s not a variety of rice, nor botanically even a grain. It’s often marketed as a form of rice, since it’s cooked and used in similar ways.
Wild rice is often used in fall and winter, not so much because it’s a seasonal ingredient, but because its nutty flavor and hearty texture lend themselves to cool-weather dishes like grain pilafs and stews. It’s a nice addition to grain salads and stuffings, and seem to especially complement dishes that incorporate winter squashes.
See our Guide to Wild Rice for lots more tips and recipes.
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 salt-free bouillon cube
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 8 ounces mushrooms, any variety, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
- 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
- Combine the barley, wild rice, water, and bouillon cube in a large saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then cover and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. If the grains aren’t done to your liking, add 1/2 cup more water, allow it to absorb, and test again. Repeat as needed.
- Heat the oil in a stir-fry pan or large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the celery and carrots and continue to sauté until all are golden.
- Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until wilted, just a few more minutes.
- Stir in the cooked barley and wild rice followed by the remaining ingredients, including one or both of the optional ingredients. Transfer to a serving container or platter, or serve straight from the pan.
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