Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Parmigiano

Barley in a risotto…why not?  I came across a recipe for barley risotto in a magazine a while back and have had it on my food to-do list for quite a while.  The biggest question in my mind was, would it be just as creamy as arborio rice?  I was skeptical…but YES!!!  It was SOOOOO creamy and delicious, and I found that I liked that it had more of a heartier chew than regular arborio risotto (plus, barley is cheaper than arborio, woohoo)!  Reading through the instructions, you will see that you cook this pretty much the exact same way you would cook regular arborio risotto, but you just sub in some barley.  Here’s how to do it:
If you would like to review a more in-depth recipe of how to make risotto and what’s going on with it, read my Brandy and Brown Butter Risotto post.

Yields about 4 servings

3-4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 a small onion, minced
3/4 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup brandy, or do 1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (to taste)
1/2 lb asparagus spears, pre-boiled for 2 minutes
chopped parsley or basil, for garnish
salt and pepper

Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and place a lid on the pot to keep it warm.

Heat up another pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil.  Add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add the barley and toast for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Toasting will prevent the barley shell from breaking later on. Add the brandy, and cook for another minute until the brandy is absorbed.

Add the hot stock a little bit at a time, adding just enough to cover the surface of the barley.  Stir the barley frequently.  Once the liquid is absorbed, add stock again, and repeat this process for the next 25 minutes or so, until the barley is al dente. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, asparagus, and herbs.  Enjoy!

Click here for the printable recipe.

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10 Responses to Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Parmigiano

  1. What a great use for barley! Why now put it in a creamy risotto! This looks so comforting and delicious!

  2. Brandy and brown butter. Oh my! Everything you make turns out so delicious.

  3. Caroline says:

    This sounds SO good, Joanne! Creamy and cheesy perfection.

  4. Ann says:

    What a GREAT idea! I just got a bunch of barley and was wondering what to do with it. You are SO clever!

  5. I am not a huge risotto eater, but there is something about this dish that is calling me. I mean the photo is making me hungry lol. Very nice recipe

  6. Gorgeous. I’ve seen recipes for barley risotto but have never made it. Yours looks so good though I want it now! Will have to try.

  7. I made this last night! It was Zach’s first time having risotto…or barley…?! Haha. But it came out really well! I substituted bourbon for brandy and pecorino romano for parmigiano reggiano, but it came out quite tasty. It seems like the perfect creamy, warm, chewy fall/winter recipe!

    • Joanne says:

      YAY!!!! That’s so great. How do you like it compared to arborio risotto? For some reason I like this better, but that’s because I just love barley! I bet the bourbon would be GREAT. I will try that next time!

      • I really like arborio risotto but I think the barley was way more interesting because of the nutty flavor and chewy texture. Also, it’s WAY healthier for you and really filling! Zach took some for lunch today even though he was a little scared of it last night (well, not really, but he wasn’t sure about what he was going to think about it). The bourbon was really good! Very hearty and delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Such an interesting recipe too, since most barley recipes take forever and/or they’re variations on beef and barley soup. So boring compared to this great risotto. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Mid-week links « Jess Gambacurta

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