Friday, April 13, 2012

What's Cookin?: Barley Risotto with Caramelized Leeks, Mushrooms & Spring Veggies

I bought a bag of pearl barley to make some barley soup.  While I haven't had time to make my soup yet, I was inspired to use my leeks that I had harvested this week.  While looking up leek recipes, I came across a recipe for barley risotto.  Cool!  I was game. 
The recipe called for leek and mushrooms.  I jazzed up the recipe by adding seasonal goodies such as roasted asparagus and the small harvest of over wintered Swiss chard and spinach from my garden.  I also used up some prosciutto I had in the fridge.  The recipe called for 2 cans of chicken broth which is about 4 cups.  Next time I would use only 3 cups and add more as needed.  I found the risotto was a little watery with the entire 4 c. chicken broth and required extra cooking time once the pot was uncovered.  However, the risotto did firmed up when cooled.  You could also make this an entirely vegetarian dish if you like.

I really enjoyed this recipe.  It's amazing how barley can make a great risotto.  It was creamy and yummy just like rice!  It was delicious and definitely a keeper!!  I'm linking up to Greenish Thumb for the GTTC.  

Barley Risotto with Caramelized Leeks, Mushrooms & Spring Veggies
Serves: 6
Adapted from: (from Cooking Light, December 2003)

1 lb. asparagus
olive oil
sea salt
1/2 package prosciutto or 6 slices bacon, diced
3 c. (about 3 large) leeks, cleaned and chopped 
3 c. (about 8 oz.) mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portobellos)
Swiss chard and spinach (about 3 c.), remove ribs/stems from Swiss chard and chop
1 c. uncooked pearl barley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (14 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse and trim ends off asparagus.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or foil.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast for about 25 minutes.  About half-way through cooking, shake pan to turn asparagus.  Once done roasting, turn off oven and remove asparagus.  Allow asparagus to cool, then chop into 1 inch pieces.  Set asparagus to the side.

2)  In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add prosciutto or bacon and cook until meat is crispy.  Once done, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel and set aside.

3) Add leeks to the pot and cook for about 20 minutes or until the leeks are tender and golden, stirring occasionally.  Add Swiss chard and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

4) Add barley, salt and pepper and cook for another 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add 3 cups of broth (reserve the rest for later) and bring to a boil.  Cover pot and reduce heat.  Simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If risotto seems dry, add more chicken broth (about 1/2 c. at a time).
5) Uncover cot and cook for about 5 more minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed.  

6) When risotto is done, remove from heat.  Stir in parmesan cheese, asparagus, spinach and crispy prosciutto or bacon.  Adjust seasonings after you add the above since the asparagus and prosciutto/bacon will be salty.  Serve warm.  


Doc said...

Yummy, this looks great. I have a huge row of leeks in the garden that a friend gave me as seedlings and was wondering what to do with them. Have you ever made leek soup? My mother-in-law made it but unfortunately the recipe died with her.

Wendy said...

whoa, this looks so good. I think I'm going to make this this week!

Liz said...

I've never thought of making a risotto with barley and I really like the idea. Thankyou for sharing it.

~Holly~ said...

Doc: I posted two different leek soups. I hope you find one of them helpful.

Wendy: I hope you enjoy it. It was really tasty!!

Liz: I've never even made regular risotto before. This was a delicious recipe and a nice way to use up spring veggies!