Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer fresh barley risotto

Hey all my lovely followers,

I'm back from my 3 month hiatus. Culinary school was so wonderful and I learned so much, however... it was exhausting! School for 4 hours in the AM, work in the PM and starting a company takes it's toll. We've been cooking throughout this time, although definitely not as much as we usually do.

I made a delicious barley risotto this week and am excited to share. This recipe takes about an hour - it's not too much prep, but you do have to give your pot a stir every couple of minutes to make sure the bottom does not burn. I use barley here to make somewhat of a risotto-type dish, obviously not true risotto, but you come away with an amazingly tasty, warm and hearty meal.

Barley has about 10 grams of protein and 15 grams of fibre per 1/2 cup (uncooked) serving -which is about a serving once cooked. How fantastic is that! It's so beneficial for heart health and lowering cholesterol. We didn't even add any meat to this dish and were still nice and full, a good kindof full, not a lying-on-the-couch-going-to-explode kindof full. Try it tonight with the vegetables we used or some of your favourites that are fresh right now!

Check out your market or grocery store for Ontario tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, peppers, garlic and mushrooms! So much to choose from.

Mushroom & spinach barley risotto

Makes 4 servings


1/2 large or 1 small white onion

1 tsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

3 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 1/2 cups pearl barley

1/4 cup white wine (and some for the chef!)

2 cups vegetable broth

4 cups water

3 cloves of garlic, minced

8 cups spinach, chopped

dash of cayenne

salt & pepper

handful of fresh basil, chopped

hard cheese like grana padano or parmagiana reggiano *optional


1. Warm butter & oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion. Saute for 6 minutes, do not brown the onion.

2. Add tomatoes & mushrooms. Saute 4 minutes more.

3. Add the barley and stir with a wooden spoon, until barley has soaked up all liquid. Add wine and continue to stir until barley is sticky and liquid is soaked up - about 4 minutes.

4. Add 2 cups broth, pinch of salt & pepper. Stir every couple minutes until liquid is absorbed. Once absorbed, add 2 cups of water & minced garlic. Allow all liquid to be soaked up - this should take around 20 to 30 minutes. The remaining 2 cups of water may not be needed. Once four cups have been soaked up, taste the barley. If the texture is still firm, continue to add little bits of water and cook the barley until desired texture is reached. Total cook time of barley should be between 30 to 40 minutes.

5. Season with a little more salt & pepper, cayenne, cheese and add fresh basil right before serving.


Much love & good eating,


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