This entree is vegetarian, but the mushrooms make it hearty enough for non-vegetarians too. The flavors are perfect for the colder weather of fall.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 8 ounces carrots, finely chopped
- 3 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 ounce Parmesan, grated (2/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the barley and thyme and cook, stirring, until the barley is just golden, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker and add the carrots, broth, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on high until the liquid is absorbed and the carrots and barley are tender, about 3 hours.
Discard the thyme and stir in the Parmesan, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Thin out the risotto with warm water for desired consistency as needed. Top with parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.