Wild Mushroom Barley

4.75 from 4 votes

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If you’ve ever seen a beautiful mix of mushrooms in all shapes and sizes and not known what to do with them, this easy wild mushroom barley is for you. Either a main dish or a side, this vegan recipe involves simmering barley on the stove with a big skillet next to it to sauté mushrooms. It’s aromatic with minced garlic, fresh herbs and baby spinach. It has just 10 ingredients and takes 25 minutes to cook.

A skillet with barley, sautéed mushrooms and spinach.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Served as a vegan main or a side dish, it’s easy to make and you only need 10 ingredients. I love the simplicity of the combination of mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Also, you take advantage of the heat in the pan and stir in baby spinach for greens.

This is a great farmers market recipe. Usually there is at least one mushroom stall at a market. If you want to buy local specialty ingredients, mushrooms are a great option.

Barley is a nutritious grain that delivers on texture. Used in soups, salads and side dishes, barley is so versatile. Cooked barley has a nice chewy bite. I highly recommend keeping it in your pantry.

What are Wild Mushrooms?

At its most basic, wild mushrooms are picked or foraged, and cultivated mushrooms are grown in controlled environments. So that means you will have varieties that fall into both categories depending how and where they are grown. 

If you usually cook button, cremini or portobello mushrooms, use this recipe to expand your horizon to other ones such as oyster, enoki and beech mushrooms. Even though they are different sizes, just slice the larger ones and break up the bunches of smaller ones. 

The Ingredients

Ingredients including barley, mushrooms, spinach, herbs, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and water.

This is what you need:

  • Mushrooms: As mentioned, try to use a mix of mushroom types. This barley will turn out more interesting if you include a variety that goes beyond the most common types. 
  • Barley: I simmer the grains in water on the stove. You also can use low-sodium vegetable broth. Instead of pearled barley, you can substitute with brown rice or farro, which both have grains similar in size to barley. I prefer them over quinoa in this recipe.
  • Spinach: When the mushrooms have finished sautéing, I add baby spinach with the cooked barley. The heat in the pan gently wilts the leaves. You can substitute with chopped kale.
  • Garlic: I sauté 2 minced garlic cloves with the mushrooms after they brown.
  • Chives and parsley are a great mix of fresh herbs because they add some onion flavor along with general herbiness.
  • Olive oil: This is a recipe with few ingredients, so you need make sure they all taste good on their own. That’s why I like using high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Salt & pepper season the mushroom barley.

How To Make Wild Mushroom Barley

1. Cook the barley. Combine the barley and water in a pot. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the grains are tender but chewy, about 12 minutes. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and fluff with a fork. Drain any excess water from the pot.

2. Sauté the mushrooms. Warm the oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until they start to brown. 

Cooked barley in a pot. Sautéed mushrooms in a skillet.

3. Stir the garlic, salt and pepper into the mushrooms. Sauté for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are caramelized and fragrant.

4. Fold the barley and spinach into the mushrooms. The greens will wilt. Then stir in the parsley and chives.

Garlic, salt and pepper stirred into sautéed mushrooms. Cooked barley, spinach and fresh herbs mixed into mushrooms.


Side dishes with grains and vegetables are always simple and satisfying. You can use this strategy throughout the year, changing the veggie for the season. The flavors in this recipe go with Mediterranean and Italian main dishes that can include proteins such as chicken, salmon or shrimp. 

Leftovers & Storage

You can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. Either warm them in the microwave or eat them cold. You can add fresh spinach, arugula or other leafy greens and turn it into a salad with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette or lemon vinaigrette.

Mushroom barley on a plate.

Recipe Tips

Don’t overcook the barley. It should be tender and cooked through, but still somewhat chewy.

Cook the mushrooms until they are lightly browned. When you give mushrooms enough time to brown and caramelize, you enhance their flavor.

Don’t worry. At first it will look like a lot of spinach in the skillet. The heat will quickly wilt the greens, and they will easily mix into the grains and mushrooms.

Recipe FAQs

Can you use more standard mushrooms instead of wild mushrooms?

Yes. Don’t let that be the reason why you don’t try this recipe. Cremini mushrooms or baby bellas would be my recommendation of types that you can usually find at the grocery.

What other ingredients that you can mix into the mushroom barley?

Try grated Parmesan or a plant based version to keep the recipe vegan. Toasted walnuts or almonds will add nutty crunch.

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Wild Mushroom Barley

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Vegan side dish or main, this wild mushroom barley has a mix of sautéed mushrooms stirred with baby spinach and wholesome grains. It's fragrant with fresh herbs and garlic.


  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms (oyster, enoki, beech, portobello, shiitake, cremini, sliced if large or separated, if in bunches)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the barley and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes until tender but chewy. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and fluff with a fork. Drain the remaining water if necessary.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown.
  • Stir in the garlic, salt and pepper and continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms are caramelized and fragrant.
  • Fold the barley and spinach into the mushrooms, letting the leaves wilt. 
  • Stir in the parsley and chives.


If you can’t find a variety of mushrooms, use sliced cremini mushrooms or baby bella mushrooms instead.
You can use brown rice or farro instead of barley.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Warm them in the microwave or eat them cold as a salad. You can stir in fresh spinach, arugula or other leafy greens and add a little balsamic vinaigrette or lemon vinaigrette.


Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 611mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1800IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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