This barley and mushroom casserole recipe is great for those days when you just want something a little different.
As a main course, it is perfect for a vegetarian meal. Even if you aren’t vegetarian, this barley casserole great for Meatless Mondays, or any day you just want to eat a little less meat.
It’s also a nice side dish. Don’t we all get tired of potatoes, pasta and rice? I know I do. Who thinks of barley as a side dish? Well, this recipe will make you think of it more often.
It is really simple to put together, but you do need to have a couple of hours to let it cook away on it’s own. Make it the night before if you are short on time during the week.
Barley is low on the Glycemic Index, so it’s great for diabetics.
What is the Glycemic Index?
Several years ago scientists in Australia and Canada researched how much carbohydrate each food has and how it affects our blood sugar levels. They developed a list of ingredients and a scale or index of where they fall in terms of effects on blood sugar. Here is what the website www.glycemicindex.com says about the index:
“The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels.”
Barley has the lowest glycemic value of any grain tested with a GI (Glycemic Index) value of 25. What that means is that eating barley will not affect your blood sugar any where near as much as bread, pasta or rice. So if you are diabetic, watching your carb count or just want to make something different, try this recipe for barley casserole with mushrooms.
Barley and Mushroom Casserole
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced, fresh
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 onion, large, chopped fine
- 1 cup barley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the onions and the sliced mushrooms and sauté lightly for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove a few mushrooms and set them aside to layer on the top of the casserole. Add the salt and pepper, barley and the broth to the rest of the onion mushroom mixture. Scoop it all into a buttered casserole dish. Arrange the reserved mushrooms on the top.
- Cover and bake at 350°F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add more water or broth as needed.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
The recipe calls for pot barley, but you can use pearl barley if you prefer. They’re really the same. Pearl barley is just polished and a bit more refined than pot barley. If pearl barley is what you can find, that’s fine.
To make this recipe vegan, just substitute a vegan alternative for the butter and use vegetable broth.
Tips for Your Barley Mushroom Casserole:
I love putting my own spin on recipes I try. For this one I have a couple of suggestions:
- If you like things hot, add as much of your favorite hot sauce as you like. I would add it to the casserole before you bake it to let those lovely spices bake with everything else.
- Add chopped fresh herbs to the casserole. Not only will it be tasty and healthy, the herbs would add great color to the casserole. I would add 3 tablespoons (or more or less to your taste) of chopped fresh parsley, chives or even cilantro. Fresh rosemary would be lovely too, but use mush less because it can quickly overpower a dish.
- You can also add dried herbs to the mixture before you bake it. Again, parsley and chives would work well. Also dried oregano. Dried herbs are more powerful so I would only add a teaspoon or two.
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