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Mushrooms and Barley with Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Mushrooms and Barley with Sheep's Milk Cheese

Leigh Belanger
Best known as soup partners, mushrooms and barley get extra pep from lemony accents. Make sure the chard is well-drained before adding it to this dish, which can be served alongside meat or fish, or on its own.


  • 2 bunches Swiss chard washed, stemmed, and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 3 cups shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 scant cup shaved aged sheep’s milk cheese such as Pecorino Sardo
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add chard, pushing leaves down into the water with a spoon. Blanch for 2 minutes, then strain chard and transfer to an ice bath. When chard is cool, remove from ice bath, and squeeze to remove excess water. Roughly chop chard again, and place
  •  in a paper towel–lined bowl. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring 2½ cups of water and ¼ teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add barley, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes. Drain, and spread on a sheet pan to cool. Press paper towels over barley to absorb any extra moisture. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. When oil is warm, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic and 1 tablespoon oil. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until garlic is soft and fragrant. Add chard and cook, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off heat, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Transfer barley to a large bowl, and toss with remaining oil, lemon zest, and juice. Add mushroom-chard mixture, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Toss in shaved cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Photographed by Dominic Perri

Leigh Belanger

Leigh Belanger is culture's former food editor. She's been a food writer, editor, and project manager for over a decade— serving as program director for Chefs Collaborative and contributing to local newspapers and magazines. Her first book, The Boston Homegrown Cookbook, was published in 2012. She lives and cooks in Boston with her family.