4green onions,white parts and a little of the green thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper,to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese,to garnish
In a heatproof bowl, pour 1 cup of boiling water over the dried mushrooms, and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside. In a saucepan, bring the mushroom soaking liquid and broth to a simmer; reduce the heat and keep warm on the stove.
Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in large pot of boiling water. To do so, add the chopped asparagus and cook until become bright green, about 1-2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. The asparagus should still have some snap to it but not taste raw. Set aside until ready to use.
In a large deep skillet or pan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the shallot and garlic until softened (but not browned), about 2-3 minutes.
Add soaked mushrooms and the sliced mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, until softened.
Add the barley and cook, stirring to coat, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the white wine, cook until reduced. Then add the hot broth mixture, 1 cup (250 ml) at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Continue until reaches a creamy consistency and the barley is tender but still slightly firm (al dente), about 45 minutes in total.
Add the asparagus and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, until asparagus is warmed.
Stir in the parsley and green onions. Season with salt (1 teaspoon or more) and pepper, to taste. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
I used chicken broth for this recipe, for a vegetarian version; feel free to use vegetable broth. If you are following a vegan diet, then go one step further and substitute the butter for a vegan alternative and skip the parmesan cheese as garnish.
I like to blanch my asparagus so I have complete control over how cooked it will be. It could however be added directly to the risotto and cooked along with the barley. You can try adding it on the last cupful of broth, the liquid will help cook the asparagus.