Mixed Grain Risotto

Nothing happens. Nothing happens. Then suddenly: mushrooms.

For Christmas, I bought the Tiny Kitchen Assistant a grow-your-own mushrooms kit because it’s fun to grow stuff. After promptly casting it aside in favor of fun stuff like Legos, I actually forgot about it. After many weeks, we finally stumbled across the package and decided to start growing. And I have to admit, it was pretty cool. But what was I going to cook with the mushrooms?

Last year, I made a risotto using barley instead of arborio rice. It was tasty, and arguably more nutritious than using the classic white rice, but I do like the super-creamy texture that arborio offers. So why not mix the two?

This was the perfect solution. The rice is creamy and starchy while the barley holds just a touch more texture and bite. I actually think that I like this combination best of any that I’ve tried.

As for the mushrooms… well, the Tiny Kitchen Assistant doesn’t actually like mushrooms. Growing them: fun. Eating them: not. I respect that; flavor aside, they do have a weird texture. So in an effort to prevent a situation where we he throws the baby out with the bath water, I opted to cook the ‘shrooms separately and use them as a garnish. Everyone wins!


  • 1/2 cup arborio (risotto) rice
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 3 Tbsp butter, separated
  • Olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine, separated
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • Oyster mushrooms, about 1 cup chopped
  • Dried thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated parmegiano reggiano


In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt 1 Tbsp butter and oil over medium heat. And onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and barley. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains start to gain a nutty aroma.

Add 1 cup white wine. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the wine is absorbed. Toss in the parmesan rind.

Add broth, one cupful at a time, and repeat the process, adding more liquid as it is absorbed. Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste. With some liquid still left in the pot, turn off the heat and set aside; the broth will absorb while you prep the mushrooms.

In a separate frying pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add mushrooms and stir frequently until they turn golden brown and fragrant. Add 1/2 cup wine and continue stirring until all liquid is absorbed.

Serve a hearty mound of risotto dusted with mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

Yes, it takes some time, but you can make a great risotto in just over an hour.


The Husband went back for seconds. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant, after eating one obligatory mouthful with mushrooms, happily ate the rest without. “It’s really good, especially with the cheese on top. Parmesan cheese makes everything taste delicious. Write that down!”

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