Vegetable Barley Risotto

Do you remember my Vegetable Risotto recipe?  The one that I told you was delicious and healthy, with the exception that white rice has limited nutritional value?  And then I said that I was going to make it with barley instead?  Well, as you’ve probably figured out by now, I did it!  I finally got around to getting some pearled barley and found the time to stir a pot of risotto at the end of a very busy weekend. 

All I did was replace the arborio rice with pearled barley and kept everything else about the recipe the same.  The cooking time was a little longer, but otherwise the method works.  And the result was worth the time – this variation is delicious!   I do have to admit, if you are expecting a replica of traditional risotto, this is not it – the barley has a much stronger flavor and chewier texture, but you do still get the creaminess and all of the other flavors in the original.  And the health difference is amazing.  I usually focus more on ingredient lists than nutrition labels, but in this case the nutrient difference is so obvious:  for a 160 calorie serving (1/4 cup dry), arborio rice has no fiber and 3 grams of protein, whereas pearled barley has 8 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein!  Just think of all of the other nutrients not captured on the label that remain with the grain when all of the healthy parts aren’t stripped away.

So I am convinced – with apologies to the traditional Italian cuisine that I love so dearly, barley risotto is the way of the future in my home!

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