This vegan mushroom-barley stew with parsnips makes the most of the lightly spicy flavor of parsnips. First, by adding them to the stew and then by transforming them into a crispy parsnip topping. This mushroom barley stew recipe will be your go-to autumn recipe.
I’ve been hard at work on my 5-ingredient cookbook, which, thankfully, the ingredients don’t include water, salt, pepper, or oil. It’s been SUPER challenging coming up with ways to make 5 ingredients exciting.
Last night, I mulled around the idea of developing a vegan mushroom barley stew recipe. Since I had parsnips, I wanted to include them as a vegetable. I didn’t want to rely on them solely as a stew ingredient. Instead, I wanted to find a way to incorporate them as a garnish as well.
That’s when it hit me: crispy parsnips!
I imagined the parsnips as thin, shoestring fries. To be extra crispy, they shouldn’t be too thick which meant finding a way to get paper-thin sheets. I used a vegetable peeler to shave the parsnip into sheets. A mandolin or julienne peeler would work too. Then I sliced those sheets into matchsticks.
From there, I threw the parsnip matchsticks into hot oil. The result? A garnish that’s crunchier than potato chips with the a lightly spicy flavor.
How to make the vegan mushroom-barley stew with parsnips:
The stew itself is unbelievably easy to make. It just has the following ingredients:
- Dry thyme
- Pearl barley
- Water, salt, and pepper
For the mushrooms, I recommend using a variety of mixed mushrooms. Try slicing half and then dicing the remaining half to create some textural contrast.
To make the stew, simply sauté the mushrooms in batches and then add the celery, thyme, and barley. Add lots of salt and pepper and water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the barley is tender.
Ladle the cooked stew into bowls and garnish with the crispy parsnips. It’s really a perfect autumn meal!
Mushroom-Barley Stew with Parsnips
- Large pot
- Small skillet
- Vegetable peeler
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil for sautéing plus more as needed
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms half sliced and half diced
- 5 ribs celery with leaves diced
- 3 parsnips divided
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 6 cups water or vegetable stock
- ⅓ cup neutral oil for frying
For serving, optional:
- Microgreens or minced parsley
Prepare the parsnips:
- Peel and trim all three of the parsnips. Dice two of the parsnips into half-moons.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave the remaining parsnip into paper-thin sheets. It’s okay if the sheets are a little ragged around the edges.
- Stack the parsnip strips on top of each other. Then, using a sharp knife, thinly slice the parsnip sheets into matchsticks, no wider than 1/8”. Set them aside. Note: You can also use a julienne peeler to create thin strips of parsnips.
Cook the mushrooms:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add half the mushrooms and cook, often stirring, until well-browned, about 10–15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove them from the pot and transfer them to a bowl. If the pot seems dry, add another drizzle of oil. Add the remaining half of the mushrooms and brown for 10–15 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the aromatics:
- Add the diced celery, including the leaves, to the pot and the first batch of browned mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or until the celery begins to sweat.
- Add the parsnips and thyme and season all over with salt and pepper. Add the barley and toss to coat. Cook for 1–2 minutes.
Simmer the stew:
- Pour in the water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the barley is tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the crispy parsnip topping:
- Pour 1/3 cup of neutral oil into a medium skillet. It should be about 1/4” deep. Turn the heat to medium and allow the oil to reach 350ºF. Add half of the parsnips and cook, turning regularly with tongs for 1–3 minutes until golden brown all over. The parsnips are very thin and will burn quickly, so keep an eye on them and turn them regularly! Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Fry the remaining batch, add to the paper towel-lined plate, and season with salt.
- Ladle the stew into shallow bowls and pile the crispy parsnips on top. Serve with microgreens or minced parsley. Enjoy!