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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Portobello Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemon

These buttery, barley-topped portobello mushrooms from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook make for a hearty, warming starter - though they would also work for lunch, or as part of a sharing spread.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi


This is another of Scully’s creations. The mushrooms are cooked with lots of butter and herbs and then served warm with the most soothing topping. You can prepare the mushrooms and barley ahead of time, then heat them up and add the lemon, feta and herbs at the last minute.

Try your hand at preserving lemons if you have the patience (page 273 of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook). Otherwise, Belazu makes them and sells them in delis or online, at

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100g unsalted butter
15 sprigs of thyme
6 large Portobello mushrooms
180ml dry white wine
250ml vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
coarse sea salt and black pepper
For the pearl barley:
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
110g pearl barley
1 quarter of a preserved lemon, flesh removed and skin finely chopped
50g feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 tbsp purple basil sprouts, radish sprouts, or purple basil leaves, shredded
1 tbsp olive oil

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1. First cook the barley. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the barley, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 1 hour, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Take a large baking tray and grease it heavily with two-thirds of the butter. Scatter the sprigs of thyme over it and place the mushrooms on top, stemside up. Pour over the wine and stock and scatter the sliced garlic over. Dot each mushroom with a couple of knobs of the remaining butter, then season with salt and pepper. Cover the tray with foil and place in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Leave them in their cooking juices until you are ready to serve.

3. When the barley is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the preserved lemon, feta, parsley and thyme. Taste and add salt and pepper. To serve, reheat the mushrooms in the oven for a few minutes, if necessary. Place each mushroom on a serving plate, stem-side up. Scoop the barley on top and spoon some of the mushroom cooking juices over. Garnish with the basil and drizzle over the olive oil.

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From the book: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

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