We love risotto as a side dish in our home. Recently, in an effort to vary the grains we eat, I decided to try barley instead of Arborio rice as the base and boy was this a great idea! It makes the dish a little more guilt-less and changes things up a bit, without sacrificing taste or the creaminess of a regular risotto. Here’s how it’s done:
- 1/4 cup of diced onions (I have used yellow, sweet, and green and you can also use shallots)
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil or 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup white or marsala wine
- 1 cup barley
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
- salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs of your choice to taste
Sauté onions with oil or butter until translucent, then deglaze the pan with your wine. In the meantime, warm chicken stock in a separate pot and keep on low heat. After deglazing your pan, add the barley and toast for 1 minute or so. Then, gradually add in the chicken stock. I only add about 1/2 cup at a time, allow it to simmer with the barley mixture for a few minutes until most of it is absorbed, and then add another 1/2 cup or so. Remember that the key to good risotto is to go slow and add the liquid in bit by bit, the entire process may take 30-40 minutes. It is well worth it! Add in your salt and pepper to taste during this time. We like to add in dried parsley and oregano, or rosemary. When you have finished adding in the liquid, and you have let the risotto soak up most of the broth, then add parmesan cheese and stir. You can also top with mozzarella cheese if desired.
Add ins for the risotto, if desired, include mushrooms (I would add these in with the onions), sundried tomatoes, peas, diced zucchini or squash…pretty much anything you want!