A healthy, vegetarian meal that’s still tasty and satisfying!
A while back I decided to eat healthier and it’s been well worth it, but on the other hand, it can be quite an endeavor finding creative new ways to cook tasty meals with whole grains that are better for your body.
You’ve heard me say that I love Italian food – who doesn’t? Being a lover of pasta and rice of all kinds I was anticipating an upward battle to satisfy my longings. Yet it has been nothing short of a pleasant yummy surprise and not as hard as I thought.
I now have several dishes featuring healthy ingredients under my belt and this risotto dish substituting pearl barley for the standard Arborio rice found at Serious Eats is well worth sharing!
Yes, a barley risotto; that is more nutritious than the standard and tastes delicious to boot. I used some fresh herbs from the garden and skipped the lemon wedges when serving. Here’s to eating well, and enjoying lighter meals.
(adapted from Serious Eats)
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 4 cups water
• 1 medium onion, chopped fine
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped fine
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
• 1 1/2 cups barley
• 1 cup dry cooking white wine- or real wine!
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
• 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
• 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
• Liberal use of ground black pepper
1. Combine the broth and water and bring to a simmer in a medium saucepan; reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover to keep warm.
2. In the meantime, combine the onion, carrot, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened – about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to medium, add the barley, and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and aromatic – about 4 minutes.
4. Stir in the wine and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the wine has been completely absorbed by the barley – about 3 minutes.
5. Stir in the thyme and 3 cups of the warm broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry – about 20 to 22 minutes.
6. Stir in 2 more cups of the warm broth and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry – another 15 to 20 minutes longer.
7. Continue to cook the risotto, stirring frequently and adding 1/2 cup of the remaining broth at a time as needed to keep the pan bottom from becoming dry (about every 5 to 6 minutes), until the grains of barley are cooked through but still somewhat firm in the center – about 25 minutes.
8. Take pot off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Serve immediately in warmed bowls, with wedges of lemon and/or fresh parsley. (And maybe some extra cheese on the side!)
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This recipe does takes some time, but it’s so simple to make that it allows you to do other kitchen tasks while keeping an eye on the pot. Enjoy!
Readers – how do you turn some of your favorite indulgences into healthier fare?
we heart this review team member Pamela Irene, our kitchen guru, lives with husband David in Orange County, CA and works in the management office at the ‘happiest place on earth’ – South Coast Plaza. She can also mix a mean cocktail and is the owner of the largest bath & body collection we’ve ever seen.