Mushroom-Sage Orzotto is a risotto-style dish made with pearled barley, onion, mushrooms, and sage. Creamy, savory, and comforting, orzotto makes a beautiful side dish for the holidays but is easy enough for everyday.
This recipe was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for content.
What is orzotto?
Raise your hand if you've heard of orzotto. "Or huh?" Haha right?! Until stumbling upon this cooking method a couple of years ago I'd never heard of it.
In short, orzotto is an Italian dish similar to risotto but made with pearled barley instead of rice. It's creamy, savory, and full of possibilities.
Pearled barley, sometimes called pearl, is barley that has been polished to remove the bran layers. It is less nutritious than hulled barley but is softer and takes less time to cook. And because the bran has been removed, the starches create a luscious, creamy texture similar to risotto.
How To Make Mushroom Orzotto
Here's a summary to get you started. See the recipe below for complete instructions.
Begin by rinsing and draining the pearled barley.
Next, sauté onion in a large sauté pan or stock pot. Add sliced mushrooms, and cook until the moisture has evaporated. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the barley to the pan, and give everything a good stir.
Add vegetable broth and sage, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until most of the broth has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Stir the orzotto to release even more of the starch. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the broth has evaporated. Stir in the non-dairy milk (any unsweetened variety is fine), and vegan butter, and remove from heat.
Season with black pepper, top with vegan parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve.
Mark and I ate almost the entire four-serving batch the first time I tested this dish, and I knew I had to make it again to share with you! I doubled everything for the final recipe, and, as written, it serves 6 to 8 people as a side dish.
If you're not particularly into sage or can't find fresh sage when the mood for orzotto strikes, don't let that stop you! The umami-rich mushrooms, sweet onions, and fragrant garlic + butter pretty much have delicious on lockdown. The sage does make it extra special, though, and boy oh boy does the house smell amazing while this cooks!
If you love mushrooms, don't miss this Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stew!
Craving something green? Add fresh spinach or chopped kale during the final few minutes of cooking.
Turn orzotto into a full meal with cooked garbanzo or cannellini beans.
And flavor-wise, if you're not in the mood for sage, rosemary works well here, too. Another flavor option to try, especially in spring and summer, is lemon zest and/or basil. But wait until you turn off the heat to add basil or lemon, as they're more delicate.
Shopping for Fresh Sage
Just a quick tip... Start looking for fresh sage several weeks before Thanksgiving because it tends to sell out! As a bonus, sage stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to a month.
I hope you enjoy this Mushroom-Sage Orzotto as much as we do! If you try it be sure to leave a comment below to let us know how it turned out.
More vegan holiday recipes:
Beyond Meat Meatloaf
Vegan Turkey Roast
Easy Seitan Roast
Lightened Up Cauliflower Gratin
Vegan Cornbread Dressing
The Best Southern-Style Vegan Cornbread
Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Cranberry Cream Pie
Healthier Pecan Pie
Vegan Mushroom Orzotto (Barley Risotto)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 pound cremini (baby bella) or other mushrooms, sliced (discard excessively woody stems)
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups pearled barley, rinsed and drained
- 6 cups salty vegetable broth or 6 cups water and 1 ¾ Tbsp Better Than Bouillon (any vegan variety)
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried - (Alternative: for milder sage flavor, use 7 or 8 whole leaves and remove them before serving)
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 4 Tbsp vegan butter
- Violife Just Like Parmesan, shaved or shredded, optional
- Heat a large (5.5 qt.) sauté pan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil and onion to the pan. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until their moisture is released, 5 to 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the rinsed and drained barley to the pan. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the broth and sage and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until most of the broth has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir several times. Continue to cook until some of the remaining liquid has evaporated (skip this step if you don't see much liquid left in the pan). During this time the mixture will start to look creamier. Stir in the milk. When the mixture has thickened slightly and there is no longer a significant amount of broth remaining, turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Taste and season with black pepper and another pinch of salt, if needed.
- Top with vegan cheese, if using, and serve warm.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.