Let dried mushrooms stand in 4 cups of warm water for at least 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon or small strainer, lift the mushrooms out of the water, taking care not to pick up any dirt particles from the water. Place mushrooms on a paper towel and pat dry. Remove any visible remaining dirt. Strain the water, removing all dirt and debris, and put aside for later use. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, then add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing for 1 minute with frequent stirring. Pour 1/4 cup wine over mushroom–garlic mixture and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste; set aside. In a separate large pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat; add scallion and sauté for 1 minute with frequent stirring. Add in barley and mix well. Allow the barley to sizzle in the pan for about 2–3 minutes, then mix in thyme and spices. Very slowly add remaining 1/4 cup wine, using a long wooden spoon to prevent steam from burning your hand. Reduce heat, then carefully and slowly add 2 cups of mushroom water to barley while stirring. Allow barley to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. After 30 minutes, add in mushroom–garlic mixture. Continue cooking uncovered for another 15 minutes, adding remaining mushroom liquid a little at a time as needed, until barley is tender. Remove pan from heat, sprinkle grated cheese over barley, and mix in well. Let barley mixture rest for 5 minutes before serving, adding more mushroom liquid if needed. Barley should be moist but not soupy. Serve hot.
Calories: 176 calories, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 47 mg, Fiber: 4 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 fat. Carbohydrate choices: 1 1/2.
Johanna Burani is a dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Nutrition Works in Morristown, New Jersey.