You know that traditional Italian risotto that everyone goes weak in the knees for? That risotto ain't going nothing on this Barley Risotto. Did I really dare say that? Yes, I did. And I will say it again and again.
Barley risotto is the way to go, folks! The barley puffs up into little round circles that pop in the mouth. Texture-wise they are a huge improvement on the traditional arborio rice used for risotto. What's even more is that I found I not only preferred the flavor of the barley, but also that barley yielded a much creamier risotto than any arborio rice version I've tried. In fact, I loved this barley version so much I might just throw out my arborio rice altogether!
If you've been looking to try something new, then I urge you to give this recipe a try. This is a hearty, comforting, soul-soothing recipe that pleases on all levels. The texture of barley really takes risotto to a whole new level. The bright citrus flavors pair well with the sharp bites of arugula and help to cut through the creaminess from the Mascarpone and Parmesan. Of course, the toasty walnuts on top bring this dish to a 10+ with their added crunch. A stunning dish!
Risotto-Style Barley with Winter Citrus and Arugula
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
by Heidi Swanson
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups pearled barley, rinsed and picked clean
1 cup dry white wine or stock
6 cups water
grated zest of 1lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
2 big handfuls coarsely chopped arugula, or spinach
Handful of chopped/toasted walnuts, for garnish
Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper, and saute, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.
Add the barley to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine or stock and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed the liquid a bit. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, active simmer.
In increments, add about 6 cups of water, 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between additions; this should take around 40 minutes altogether. Stir regularly, because you don't want the grains on the bottom of the pan to scorch. You will know when the barley is cooked because it won't offer up much resistance when chewing (it will, however, be chewier than Arborio rice). I think this risotto is better on the brothy side, so don't worry if there is a bit of unabsorbed liquid in the pot.
Meanwhile, grate the zest of the orange, then peal and segment the orange. Cut the segments in half, reserving any juices that leak out. When the barley is tender, stir in the orange zest, segments and juice, lemon zest, Parmesan, and Mascarpone. Taste and adjust seasoning if need be, then stir in the arugula. Garnish with the toasted walnuts before serving.