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Mushroom & Bacon Barley Casserole


Years ago, as I was complaining about Mr. Prevention not helping with dishes, we decided to divvy up household chores…permanently. Somewhat as a joke, and somewhat seriously. Some of my chores included laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, dishes, and morning “dog duty”. Mr. Prevention’s chores included lawn mowing, taking out the trash, cleaning the first floor of the house, and snow removal, among several others.

We knew going to bed Monday night that we were expected to get snow overnight, but imagine my surprise when we woke up to a 12+ inch snow drift up against our garage door. I knew I should’ve hauled Mr. P from bed prior to his usual rise time to get a start on the shoveling…


After getting my car stuck in the driveway, I sat in my car frustrated for just a moment…while I called work to get some morning meetings rescheduled. Mr. Prevention opened my car door, and unaware of why I was still in my car, he falsely accused me of “Facebooking” since my phone was in my hand. I was just clearing my work calendar. The nerve! It didn’t help my mood when I stepped into a FOOT of snow in my 3-inch patent leather pumps with the biggest snow flakes falling rapidly, soaking my just-straightened hair. I was bordering on a complete meltdown, to be honest.

I went inside to change into sweatpants and boots before joining Mr. Prevention in clearing the driveway and digging out my car. An hour later, I was covered in wet snow and had to re-do my hair and change back into my work clothes.


I made it 1 mile into my 35 mile drive before spinning out trying to get onto the highway on ramp. I headed straight back to the house knowing I couldn’t safely make it to work. Frankly, I’m lucky I avoided getting T-boned in the process. What a joyous start to the day.

I finally made it to work around noon…but not in good humor. Winter is here and comfort food, especially on days like yesterday are absolutely, positively a must. This recipe – pure comfort food. But it’s packed with fiber and it’s flavors will make you want to put this recipe in your comfort food rotation this winter…and every winter to come.


Mushroom & Bacon Barley Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 slices nitrate-free bacon, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked pearl barley
  • ⅓ cup Madeira wine or dry cooking wine of choice
  • 4 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), divided
  • ½ cup (about 9) oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained and chopped
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Bring stock and 3 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Keep mixture very warm (not boiling), over low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside.
  4. Return Dutch oven with reserved bacon grease to medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and salt; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in barley; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add Madeira; cook 2-3 minute or until liquid is absorbed. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in 2 cups broth mixture; cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total).
  6. Stir in 2 ounces of the Gruyère, tomatoes, soy sauce, pepper, spinach, and reserved bacon. Transfer barley mixture to an extra larger ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe from Cooking Light (link no longer available)
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 455 Fat: 11.8 Carbohydrates: 65.3 Sugar: 4.0 Sodium: 618 Fiber: 13.3 Protein: 20.5 Cholesterol: 23

 Trying to drag myself to the gym this morning…I’m struggling!

Be well,


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  1. dixya
    November 13, 2013 / 6:51 am

    we hardly get any snow in Dallas but this cold weather is just not my thing. I would love to try this casserole as it makes a great leftover too.

    • Nicole, RD
      November 13, 2013 / 7:31 am

      The leftovers are woooonderful! 🙂

  2. Jenni {doughseedough.net}
    November 13, 2013 / 7:04 am

    This looks delicious! I’m heartbroken that it’s got cheese in it… but I might give it a try without the cheese anyway 🙂

    • Nicole, RD
      November 13, 2013 / 7:31 am

      You won’t even miss the cheese – promise!! 🙂

  3. Samantha Angela
    November 13, 2013 / 8:23 am

    What a shitty morning. I like snow, but driving in the snow is the worst. We don’t get it nearly as bad here as you guys do so we’re lucky that way, and I feel for you.

    Also, this dish looks awesome.

  4. Biz
    November 14, 2013 / 11:47 am

    Yep, once upon a time Tony lived in Sheboygan, WI and lake effect snow was amazing – people wouldn’t believe him that he had 12 inches of snow, when if you went two miles inland, there would be hardly anything!

    I am starting to like mushrooms – I may have to give this one a try!

  5. Lizzie
    December 6, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    This looks awesome!! My husband (!) is going to love this. 🙂

  6. Pingback: 10 Healthy Casserole Recipes

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