Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seared Portobello and Wilted Greens over Barley Pilaf

While looking through my filed, old magazine pages, I re-discovered this meal which I think came from Living magazine in 1998. The issue date is not printed on the page, and I couldn’t find this recipe on the web site, but an ad on the back of the page has a 1998 copyright date. And, that concludes my research into the origins of seared portobello and mixed greens over barley pilaf. In the magazine, it was made with chard, but I used a mix of braising greens from my CSA. This is, indeed, one of those grainy, healthy, vegetarian types of meals, but sometimes that’s just what I want. Even though it is very healthy, the portobellos lend a savory meatiness, and barley is a hearty, chewy grain, so the meal doesn’t feel lacking or too light. Also, the sauce provides extra flavor and just a hint of richness.

I made a couple of minor changes to the original recipe, and there’s one more change I would make next time. To begin, onion was briefly cooked before the barley was added. Next time, I would let the onion caramelize and then add the barley. Cooking the onion further would have developed even more flavor in the barley layer of the dish. With that in mind, here’s how I’ll prepare this in the future:

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 c barley
2 large portobellos, stems trimmed
1/4 c marsala wine
2 c vegetable broth
2 t chopped fresh rosemary
1 lb braising greens, stemmed and chopped
1 T unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat with 1 T olive oil, add onion and stir until just browned
- add barley to saucepan and stir frequently until toasted, about eight minutes
- add about one teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 c water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes; remove saucepan from heat and keep covered
- heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 T olive oil, add portobellos, tops up, cover, and cook for eight minutes; turn portobellos and cook eight minutes more; transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm
- add marsala to skillet and cook while stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pan; increase heat to high and add vegetable broth, rosemary, and several turns of a pepper grinder; cook until liquid has reduced to 1/2 c, about 12 minutes; taste and adjust seasoning as needed
- add greens to skillet and cook, stirring, until greens have wilted and softened, about three minutes; transfer greens to a plate
- add butter to skillet and stir to incorporate
- spoon barley onto the center of each of two plates, top each with half the greens, slice the portobellos and place on top of greens, spoon sauce over top, and sprinkle on extra chopped rosemary if you’d like

Barley is a natural fit with mushrooms to my mind, and the greens joined in well. The flavors were earthy and wintery with the rosemary accent, the sauce had a nice depth, and the butter, of course, made all the difference. This healthy meal was quick to prepare and disappeared from our plates even more quickly.


  1. wow that looks good enough to eat....chuckle chuckle - I love mushrooms no matter how you slice em'

  2. Looks yummy and healthy!

  3. Sounds and looks delish. Barley is a grossly underused grain (outside of beer!) that deserves more acceptance.

  4. I so love portobellos. They are meaty, earthy, tender, and just a wallop of flavor. This dish looks healthy and satisfying on a cold winter night.

  5. Mushrooms, mushrooms--everywhere we turn. Nothing beats the taste of a portie!

  6. Wow, this looks super heathy and delicous! Love mushrooms!

  7. Nice presentation.. Almost looks like steak and so appropriate because portobellos are so meaty, like you mentioned.

  8. What a great veggies dish ... I would love this for dinner :D

  9. This is a perfect example of a hearty vegetarian meal! It looks so nutritious, when I first eyed it, I thought it was risotto...that gave me some inspiration :D.

  10. Wow Lisa, this looks AMAZING. I can't wait to try it. I saw this on foodgrazing and clicked through to your site immediately:)


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