Food, Nutrition and Cooking

A barley by any other name

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Purple Barley Risotto

Risotto is traditionally made with arborio rice. In this version purple barley is substituted. This barley takes longer to cook than the rice. If you don’t want to spend the time over the stove, you can parboil the barley for 30 minutes in plain water before adding it to the recipe. Drain excess water and add barley at the same point as indicated in the recipe. If you do parboil, you will be able to reduce the time you have to “fuss” over the risotto by ~ the the same 30 minutes spent parboiling. Either way the barley will have more of an “al dente” texture than arborio and the overall texture of the dish will not be quite as creamy as arborio rice.

2 T unsalted butter, divided

4 oz mushrooms, sliced (I like baby bellas)

1 small onion, minced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup purple or black barley

32 ounces broth (vegetable or chicken), very hot

1 cup water (omit if barley has been parboiled), very hot

~10-15 aspargus, trimmed and cut into small pieces

Melt 1/2 the butter in a heavy skillet over medium/high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove mushrooms from pan.

Lower temperature to low. Melt remaining butter and cook onion and garlic about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium/high. Add the wine and let it boil up and deglaze the pan. Cook liquid from wine down until the consistency is a bit syrupy.

Reduce heat again to medium/low. Return the mushrooms and add the barley to the pan and coat both with the onion/garlic “syrup.” Add 1 cup of the hot broth. Cook, stirring frequently until liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. It’s important to let the liquid absorb slowly; reduce the heat if the liquid absorbs too quickly.

Add another cup of broth and again cook about 15 minutes, until it has been absorbed.

Continue until all the broth and cup of water is absorbed. At the last addition of liquid, also add the asparagus and continue to cook until almost all the liquid has absorbed. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serves 2-4

All content of this posting and is the intellectual property of Sari Schlussel-Leeds, MS, RD, CDN

unless otherwise noted.


Author: ssleedsrd1843

Sari Schlussel-Leeds, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian who loves to cook and to eat! Her love of both naturally led to a career in nutrition. After years practicing clinical nutrition, Sari now focuses on Nutrition Education. Sari’s limits her private practice to the counseling of adults specializing in medical nutrition therapy. With “moderation” as her mantra, Sari knows that no matter what the condition, eating needs to be pleasurable. Her blog,, is a forum reflecting that mantra with healthful and delicious foods as well as tips for a healthy lifestyle. All content of is the intellectual property of Sari Schlussel-Leeds, MS, RDN, CDN

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