Appetizer, Autumn, Dairy Free, Date Night, Fall, Italian, Main Course, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian

Vegan Balsamic Mushrooms with Spinach and Barley Risotto

The meaty portobello mushrooms in this hearty take on risotto will have you saying,  “What meat?” Going vegan has never been more delicious.

For this recipe I recommend scooping out the insides and removing the stem. I opt to save the stems, chop, and add to my “risotto” for more mushroom goodness.

When it comes time to add the spinach, don’t worry – it will all fit! Just add 1-2 handfuls at a time and stir the spinach in. The hot barley risotto will quickly wilt the spinach, making room for more.


Mushroom Marinade

  • 4-5 Portobello Mushrooms or 1lb baby bella mushrooms
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Large pinch of salt

Barley Risotto

  • 1 1/4 cup pearl barley (not quick cook)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • Mushroom stems, roughly chopped
  • 12oz fresh spinach
  • 64oz vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tbsp plant butter
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 cup vegan white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (vegetarian option)


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Clean mushrooms by wiping with a damp paper towel to remove any remaining dirt. Remove stems, chop and set aide. Scoop out inside gills and discard. Combine remaining marinade ingredients. Pour marinade over mushrooms in a deep dish, gently rubbing on all surfaces. Let mushrooms rest in marinade for 10 minutes, stem side up filled with marinade while you prep the risotto ingredients.

While risotto is cooking, bake mushrooms stem side up at 400° F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip mushrooms and baste in sauce if there is any remaining, and bake another 5-15 minutes. Risotto will take approximately 30 minutes, so start these at the same time.

Bring 1/2 vegetable broth to a boil then reduce to simmer, keep hot on stove top while preparing risotto (as you use the broth, add more to the pot as needed). Heat 2 tbsp plant butter in large, deep bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic until onions become translucent. Add 1 tbsp plant butter, thyme, salt and pepper, and dry barley. Toast barley in onions, mushrooms, and plant butter for 1-2 minutes to bring out the flavor. Add vegan white wine if using – cook until alcohol evaporates and liquid is nearly absorbed. Add hot broth until just covering barley in pan (about 1-2 cups). Stir for about 30 seconds then let simmer on low until liquid is almost absorbed (about 2 minutes), stir occasionally throughout this process. Continue cooking in this method for about 15-20 minutes, adding 1-2 cups at a time to cover barley, stirring and waiting for liquid to nearly absorb. The stirring will release natural starches which make the risotto creamy. After 15 minutes or so, begin testing the barley for doneness. Once barley is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, add spinach 1-2 handfuls at time while stirring until spinach is fully incorporated.

*Vegetarian: remove from heat then add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan with 2 tbsp cubed butter, stirring vigorously to combine. If risotto becomes to thick, add hot broth a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.*

Serve mushrooms with barley risotto and topped with nutritional yeast.


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