Monday, July 25, 2011

Marinated Portobellos, Grilled Veggies, and Barley Risotto

Please indulge me for a moment on a slightly heavier-than-normal issue. When I hear people my age talk about why they exercise and try to eat well, a lot of times those reasons reside in the future. They want to live longer, avoid cancer or a heart attack, have a healthy pregnancy, or lose weight for some future event. I know that Joe and I try to encourage each other to take care of our bodies in hopes of being together for a really long time. But that can give us a false sense of control, even potentially manifesting itself in a kind of disordered eating dubbed orthorexia. If we can just eat “perfectly”, whether that’s avoiding BPA, HFCS, meat, soy, or gluten (or all of the above), nothing will happen to us.

Ultimately though, we’re not in control. Susan over at The Great Balancing Act is active, even working as a personal trainer, eats well, and is my age. She was also recently diagnosed with Hodgkins’ Lymphoma when an x-ray discovered a huge mass in her chest. You can help her out with medical expenses and such today at The Great Fundraising Act. Susan’s honesty about her cancer and how it has effected her has been really moving and certainly gives a different spin to what “health” means.

And yesterday, a very good friend and training partner of an online running friend of mine, someone my mom has run with, an Ironman triathlete, was found dead of a massive heart attack at 64. A healthy man, younger than my own father. While the loss of this man is certainly unnerving and devastating for those who love him, it’s a good reminder for me that I am not in control, that there is a power much bigger than I, something I struggle with accepting a good amount of the time.

So instead of informing you about all of the virtuous health and nutritional benefits of eating your vegetables and whole grains, I’m going to tell you how the bite of the barley risotto is the perfect complement to the texture of the grilled vegetables. And the marinade on the Portobello mushrooms makes them taste shockingly close to steak. Because eating good food with the people you love is important when it’s impossible to control or predict the future.


Marinated Portobellos, Grilled Veggies, and Barley Risotto
Inspired by Ming Tsai’s Grilled Vegetable Barley Risotto with Marinated Portobello Steak


4 Portobello mushroom caps, gills removed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup red wine
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4” thick
1 large summer squash, sliced lengthwise, 1/4” thick
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 minced shallots
2 cups barley
2-3 cups vegetable stock


1. Combine mustard, garlic, soy sauce, oil, red wine, and pepper together. Taste for seasoning. Marinate mushroom caps for 1 hour.

2. Toss the squash and zucchini with olive oil and season to your liking.

3. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock in a small saucepan until hot. In another pot, add the butter and saute the shallots. Add the barley and toast. Ladle in the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until the barley is creamy and al dente. Season with salt & pepper and add the cheese.

4. Heat the grill to medium-high. Cook the mushrooms, zucchini, and squash until tender.

5. Place a mound of barley risotto on the plate. Slice the marinated Portobello like a steak and serve in front of the barley with the zucchini and squash to the side.