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Meatless Monday: Baked barley with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions

It’s the day after a big holiday. Maybe you have leftovers and maybe you don’t. If you don’t, or you just want a taste of something different and you’re committed to participating in Meatless Monday, baked barley with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions is a great dish to serve!

Bowl of organic barley

The sweet taste of the caramelized onion combines nicely with the earthy flavors of the mushrooms in this recipe. Plus it’s one of those put-it-together-and-forget-it type of dishes. This is basically a casserole dish — perfect for when you’re (still) busy entertaining holiday guests!

Barley is big when it comes to healthy foods. It’s high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol and high in vitamins and minerals. Consider this: About a half-cup of cooked pearl barley contains three grams of dietary fiber, whereas the same amount of long-grain brown rice contains about 1.75 grams dietary fiber.

Fiber is only found in plants, and among its many benefits, helps you feel fuller, which can reduce your chances of overeating and help you to maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that barley can help lower a person’s “bad” cholesterol and can contribute to better heart health.

When it comes to healthy eating, health professionals agree that a diet rich in whole grains like barley, fruit and vegetables, is a good idea. So bring on the barley — it tastes great and is good for you!

Baked barley with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions recipe

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4-1/2 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium onions)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 9 ounces)
  • 3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 8 ounces)
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)


  1. Using a medium-sized Dutch oven, add the butter and melt it over medium heat. Next add the sugar and onion to the pan, place the lid on it and cook it until the mixture lightly browns, or about 25 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture frequently as it cooks. Next add the mushrooms. Allow them to cook until lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Again, stir the mixture often as it cooks. Next add the barley to the mixutre. Allow it to cook for just a few minutes. Make sure you stir the mixture frequently. After it cooks for a few minutes, remove it from the heat. Add in your seasonings and the soy sauce and mix everything together well.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Boil the broth in a medium-sized pan. After it boils, pour it over the mixture in the Dutch oven, add the lid and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the barley becomes tender. When it is finished, remove it from the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes. If you’d like, garnish with thyme sprigs before serving.

Post-holiday meals can be easy! Try this barley, onion, and mushroom recipe to keep you and your holiday guests full and on the right track to healthy eating!

Try these Meatless Monday recipes

Post-holiday soup and salad options
Meatless Monday Mediterranean style
Meatless Monday: What’s the news?
Mushroom stroganoff

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