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Barley Risotto with Asparagus, Tomatoes, and Greens

January 1, 2008

A nice, nutritious twist on the traditional rice risotto – chock full of vegetables. Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2001.

Barley Risotto with Asparagus, Tomatoes, and Greens


1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 cups pearl barley
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 1/2 cups (about) vegetable broth
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch Swiss Chard or other greens, rinsed and chopped
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel


Cook asparagus in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water and cool. Drain.

Stir barley in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer barley to bowl. Melt butter in same saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the barley back to the saucepan and stir to coat. Add 2 cups broth; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Mix in 2 1/2 cups broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups broth and simmer until barley is tender and creamy but still slightly firm to bite, stirring frequently and adding more broth if mixture is dry, about 45 minutes. Over the last 15 minutes, you may have to keep gradually adding a bit more broth to keep it from drying out too much. When the barley is tender but still has some bite, add the tomatoes, asparagus, and greens; stir until heated through and greens are wilted, about 3 minutes. It will probably look like the greens won’t wilt down at first, but just keep stirring and they’ll eventually wilt right into the barley mixture. Mix in the cheese, arugula and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a little additional grated cheese on top.

Serves 6.

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