A warm, hearty salad is a great wintertime dinner option, but it’s also quite delicious served as a main on a warm, spring evening. Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad is prepared with caramelized shallots and is bursting with bright citrus-y flavour too!
WARM MUSHROOM AND BARLEY SALAD
When the colder months arrive, and you’re still trying to eat a little better, but at the same time, you’re trying to keep warm and eat meals that are hearty, Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad is the perfect solution.
Most of us love a good salad. I have two lettuce-based salads that I tend to go back to over and over again. The first being the classic Caesar, and the second being another classic – the Cobb Salad. I can eat those salads every single day and never grow tired or bored of them.
But, when I’m really looking for a good salad that works as a complete, filling and hearty meal, it’s this Warm Barley Salad, or my Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad.
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SWITCH UP YOUR SALAD ROUTINE
However, Caesar and Cobb salads are not necessarily healthy. Yes, they’re both a better choice if you compare them to a Big Mac Combo, but they can be rather high in calories, fat, and sodium.
When we make salads at home, I tend to just cut up and wash a bunch of ingredients, place them all into individual bowls, and place them on the table. I’ll lay out a minimum of two salad dressings and let everyone assemble their own meal.
I’ll put out ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, radishes, peppers, cabbage, cheese, croutons, onions, chicken, tofu, nuts, seeds, etc.
HEALTHY EVEN WITHOUT TYPICAL SALAD VEGETABLES!
When it comes to my Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad though, I don’t have to do all of that work. This salad is a complete meal on it’s own. It’s filling and no need to do all of that prep with what seems like a million vegetables!
There are ways you can speed this up too and make it a great weeknight dinner option. You can certainly cooked the barley ahead of time and refrigerate it. You can also use that 10-minute barley from Trader Joe’s. I always have a few packages of that in our pantry to make life a little easier.
The mushrooms, shallots, and garlic can certainly be cooked a day or two in advance. Just be sure to re-heat them in a large skillet before tossing it with the re-heated barley.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Mushrooms – I prefer to use a firmer, meatier mushroom like cremini, but you can also use white or button mushrooms, which are more economical.
- Salt & Ground Black Pepper
- Butter – I like to use salted butter when frying mushrooms, because the mushrooms taste more seasoned.
- Olive Oil – This is used to prevent the butter from burning.
- Shallots – I love cooking with shallots. They have great onion flavour, but it’s more mild and sweeter.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic will result in the best flavour every single time.
- Thyme – Fresh thyme leaves are the best option. They add an earthy, slightly minty and lemony flavour to the dish.
- Pearl Barley – Texture, flavour, and health benefits all come from the addition of the barley.
- Orange Juice – Fresh orange juice is best, but if you have a preferred bottled orange juice that you love, you can use that too.
HOW TO MAKE WARM MUSHROOM AND BARLEY SALAD
This salad looks wonderful, which might make you think that it is complicated to make, but it really isn’t! All you need to do is to cook the pearl barley according to package instructions and set aside to cool.
In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil. Add half the salt and half of the ground black pepper. Cook until deep brown in colour – about 15 minutes. Transfer mushrooms and all of the butter/oil into a glass bowl. Set aside.
Add the shallots to the skillet, along with the remaining butter, salt, and ground black pepper. Sauté the shallots until they are deep brown in colour – about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook into the shallots for 1-2 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic mixture to the bowl with the mushrooms. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape all of butter out of the skillet.
Transfer the cooled barley to the warm skillet. Stir the barely around, using the residual heat from the pan to slightly warm the cooked barley. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Toss in the fresh thyme leaves, parsley, and the orange juice. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
FRESH MUSHROOMS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
It took me years to figure out that I actually did like mushrooms, and that I had been brainwashed into thinking that mushrooms were these pale, brown, slimy, button-looking things that came out of a can. Once I began to experiment with fresh mushrooms, my opinion of them changed rather quickly.
My mom can’t be blamed for not using fresh mushrooms. I grew up in Newfoundland, and I know that canned mushrooms were all my parents could purchase at the time. I remember it well – there were sliced mushrooms, or if you were being very frugal, you could get stems and pieces in a can too.
Mom would often fry canned mushrooms with chopped onion together in her cast iron skillet. It would just be those two ingredients with a little butter, some salt, and ground black pepper. She would spoon it over the top of fried or grilled steak or pork chops. It looked so good, but I wouldn’t even try it. Fresh makes all the difference, because now I like mushrooms.
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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BARLEY
Barley is a grain that doesn’t seem to get much attention. We love it, but still, we never eat it very much. In our home, it certainly does seem like a cold weather ingredient. For example, it’s the star of my Barley Ground Beef Stew! And, I used it in yet another soup recipe, this time, it was my Squash and Kale Barley Soup.
With its chewy texture and its nutty flavor, barley is a delicious grain that can be used in a number of ways, way beyond this Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad. It is also a very nutritious and healthy food, with lots of fiber and a number of trace minerals like selenium, manganese and phosphorus.
Barley is available in two basic forms: hulled and pearl. Hulled barley has had the tough, inedible outermost hull removed but still retains its bran and endosperm layer. It is the most nutritious of the two and can be considered a whole grain. A light golden brown in color, it’s the nuttier and chewier version as well. In contrast, pearl barley has been polished to remove the bran and possibly even the endosperm layers, resulting in a pale, creamy-colored grain. It is less chewy and cooks faster. I’m using pearl barley in this recipe.
USE FRESH ORANGES!
There is really only one steadfast rule with this Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad recipe. If you really like the bright flavour and burst of citrus, be sure to use a fresh orange and squeeze it. Don’t use orange juice from a jar.
If you don’t like citrus, you can certainly leave it out completely. If I were leaving out the orange juice, I would toss a bit of parmesan cheese into mine to make it extra savoury! Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Whatever you decide, you’ll end up with a hearty dinner that’s vegetarian, delicious, filling, and super healthy! After all, salads don’t have to be green to be good!
Do You Like This Recipe?
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Warm Mushroom and Barley Salad
- 500 grams mushrooms, cremini or mini portobellos are best – sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 large shallots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rings
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 6 cups cooked pearl barley, drained, and cooled
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup orange juice, fresh
- Cook the pearl barley according to package instructions and set aside to cool.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil. Add half the salt and half of the ground black pepper. Cook until deep brown in colour – about 15 minutes. Transfer mushrooms and all of the butter/oil into a glass bowl. Set aside.
- Add the shallots to the skillet, along with the remaining butter, salt, and ground black pepper. Saute the shallots until they are deep brown in colour – about 15 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook into the shallots for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the shallot and garlic mixture to the bowl with the mushrooms. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape all of butter out of the skillet.
- Transfer the cooled barley to the warm skillet. Stir the barely around, using the residual heat from the pan to slightly warm the cooked barley.
- Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Toss in the fresh thyme leaves, parsley, and the orange juice. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
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