Here's the thing about barley risotto. I think I might be able to convince you to make it just because everything about it screams, "eat me - it's almost bathing suit season". This stuff is so healthy, you could have a big ole' bowl of it and not feel the least bit guilty about following it up with a fistful (or five) of these dark chocolate raisins.
By the way - dark chocolate covered raisins? Where have you been all my life? (Obviously those Trader Joe's beauties came to us via overseas care package - thank you, Kristin!)
But there's another, and much more important thing, about barley risotto. It's insanely good. Frank made a batch last weekend, and, though he said he was surprised at just how long it took to cook, his patience seriously paid off. The barley cooks down into a rich, creamy, starchy, satisfying bowl of goodness. Frank also reports that it boasts an enjoyable quality of requiring a glass of wine - some for sipping, some for cooking. (All cooking photos below taken by Frank!)
Why use barley in risotto?
When made into risotto, barley also retains a slightly chewy bite, giving it that "al dente" quality that is so lovely in pasta, but I find hard to maintain when I make risotto using the usual aroborio rice.
We never eat things twice in one week in our house. I have sort of a "so many recipes, so little time" thing happening here. But this risotto...we made it twice in one week.
After Frank made it on Monday, I found myself craving it so intensely that I made it again over the weekend in a different variation you see up top.
If that doesn't convince you to make some variation this week, I don't know what could, but it certainly sold me on making this again very soon.
Creamy Barley Risotto Recipe
- Stock Pot
- Large Skillet
- 6 cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock / Broth
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion, finely chopped (should measure about ¾ cup)
- 1.5 cups Pearled Barley
- ½ cup Dry White Wine
- 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cups Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
- Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
- Pour stock into a medium pot and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
- In a large skillet, with deep sides, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the barley, stirring until all of the grains are evenly coated in olive oil. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it is nearly all absorbed.
- Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the pan, and continue stirring, until the stock is nearly all absorbed. Continue cooking the barley this way, adding the stock a bit at a time and stirring frequently, until the barley is tender enough to eat but still has a slight chew, about 50 minutes.
- Add any of the optional add-ins and continue cooking for a couple minutes, just until the ingredients are heated through.
- Remove the dish from the heat and gently stir in the butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve immediately, with extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the top.