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Creamy Barley Risotto

Servings: 4
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef


  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 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. (Note: The finished risotto should be creamy but not soupy. I found that I needed to cook it for between 50 and 60 minutes, and used nearly all of the stock. If you run out of stock, simply keep adding water until the barley is cooked.) 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.