While risotto means ‘rice’ in Italian the risotto method is what this dish is named for. Creamy yet with a chewy texture, barley is a nice replacement for rice in this dish. Optionally, serve this with wild mushrooms (recipe below) for a main course.
Barley is a very nutritious grain- packed with fiber and lignans- important for maintaining blood sugar balance and heart health. Barley contains gluten, so subsitiute millet if you avoid gluten
½ cup pearl barley (organic pearl barley from a health food store has less of the bran removed- it is less ‘polished’. This variety is best as it has more fiber and nutrients and still makes a creamy risotto)
3 cups stock or water
½ onion, finely diced
½ cup red or white wine, or unsweetened grape (or pomegranate) juice
- Bring stock up to a simmer in a pot on the back burner.
- Cook onion in some olive oil until translucent. Add barley and stir to coat with olive oil in the pot with the onions.
- When the barley is coated and starting to make a ‘pop’ sound, deglaze with wine and cook until wine is absorbed.
- Add one ladle at a time of stock and stir gently over low heat until stock is absorbed and barley is creamy but still has some bite. Season with salt. This takes about 30 – 45 mins so be patient- it’s worth it!
- Add a few ladles of the beet soup-sauce and cook until the beet sauce has absorbed into the grains. The risotto should run from a spoon, but not look too soupy.
- (You may have extra sauce, but the beauty of the soup sauce is that is can be either. Save the rest and serve as a soup, or freeze it in cubes and add a few to your next risotto.)
Wild Mushrooms with shallots and balsamic
1 liter (4 cups) chopped mixed mushrooms. (Choose seasonal mushrooms- chanterelles in the fall, morels in the spring,cultivated mushrooms mixed in if you like)
3 shallots, small dice
2 Tbsp cooking oil (sunflower oil is nice and neutral)
2 Tbsp nice balsamic vinegar (or brandy, or sherry wine)
4 leaves dried or fresh sage, chopped (or crushed if dried)
1/4 bunch parsley
- In a large pan, heat oil gently and add shallots
- Sauté for a couple of minutes, until shallots are fragrant
- Add mushrooms, sage and a pinch of salt
- Cook mushrooms down until they are softening (about 5 minutes), and add balsamic
- Season to taste and add parsley, taking mushrooms off of the heat. Top your risotto with these succulent mushrooms
- Or chill leftovers and serve as antipasti on crackers