Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms (or Peas)

Who doesn’t love risotto?  Think about it – rich, creamy, cheesy (optional) deliciousness…how could you go wrong?  Well, except for the fact that the typically used Arborio rice doesn’t really fit into that good-for-you whole grain category.  I’ve seen lots of blog recipes over the years that substitute the rice for barley, but I had yet to try it.  Tonight was the night.

When I found this recipe I realized I already had everything on hand, and when that happens (especially after a work meeting that leads to an alternate, and much longer drive home) you have to take advantage.

This is a little time consuming, as most risottos are, but it’s worth it.  Trust me.  Although I will say, if you don’t like the chewier texture of barley, this may not be the recipe for you.

(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
12 oz cleaned, sliced cremini mushrooms (I omitted – mushrooms, yuck!)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used 1 Tbsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used a ½ tsp dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
6 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth + ½ cup white wine)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I omitted)
½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded (I used ¾ cup)

**I added about 1 cup of petite peas instead of the mushrooms, and considering all my other tweaks, I think I can follow my change-three-ingredients rule and call this one another Steph original!**

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released all of their liquid and are golden brown, about 10 minutes. You can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water if they start to stick. (If you are adding peas instead, do not add them until the last few minutes of cooking).
3. Stir in the herbs and garlic, then add the barley and stir to coat for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.
4. Cook for 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium and add more broth, ½ cup at a time, plus the wine, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the barley is tender but still slightly firm. You may not use all of the broth, but you will use most of it. (Now add peas)
5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese, stirring until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

I served this with a simple piece of sautéed chicken and a glass of nice crisp white wine. Delish!