barley and shitake risotto with leftover turkey

I hope that you have all had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday and if you’re at all like me, you probably have a few pounds of leftover turkey still sitting in the fridge. Personally, I love leftover turkey – I prefer it cold with a side of fresh cranberry sauce that I make. I’ll be writing up the recipe for the sauce on my blog, Sassy Radish, soon enough, but I kind of need a picture to show you, and I don’t have one. You see, I accidentally banged my beloved SLR on the corner of our dining table, and well, the camera decided to stop working. So until I take it to the camera doctor on Sunday where they will hopefully tell me that it’s reparable, I am cameraless, which feels simply awful. And of course, if they tell me I need a new camera, well, mama’s got to wait until she gets her year-end review and bonus to cough up that kind of cash.

But I digress. Turkey in the fridge – means leftovers galore. And while I love the leftovers, I do long for the leftover turkey to become reincarnated as something else, something seemingly new and break me out of the turkey sandwich monotony. Now, I haven’t made the recipe I’m about to recommend you here, but I’m making it this weekend and I have a sneaky suspicion it’s going to be a winner. It’s got barley, turkey and shitake mushrooms – three things I love and will love in combination. I’ll most likely improvise on the spices and give it my own twist, but the basic building blocks of this barley/turkey/mushroom “risotto” sound delicious and healthy – barley is really good for you, as is turkey and shitake mushrooms. And given the feeding frenzy of the holiday just past, we could all use a little bit of healthy in our meals!

Barley ‘Risotto’ With Turkey and Mushrooms
Adapted from New York Times

4 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil, or a combination
1/2 cup chopped scallions or onion
1 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil, mint, dill or parsley
3 cups any stock or water, warmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped cooked or raw turkey meat
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced
Chopped parsley leaves for garnish.

1. Put half the butter or oil in a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is melted or oil is hot, add scallions or onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until glossy; add herb, liquid and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

2. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until barley is tender (it will not become very soft) and liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat remaining butter or oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook turkey, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, then cook mushrooms until crisp in same pan; remove.

3. Check barley’s progress: Continue to cook, if necessary, adding a tablespoon or two more liquid if all liquid has been absorbed and barley is not yet tender. Stir in turkey and mushrooms and continue to cook until all is hot and combined, then garnish and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

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