Warm, creamy, starchy goodness.
You want in?
Risotto has been a long time favourite of mine. It was one of the first scratch recipes I learned to cook, and for while I made it for just about anyone who came over for dinner.
My repertoire has expanded a bit but it’s still one of my entertaining go-tos. It works as a first course or main depending on the additions and it’s a great fit for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters alike.
A few years back I discovered a recipe that switched out arborio rice, the traditional refined grain used in risotto, for pearl barley. I actually now prefer the chewy texture of the barley version. Pearled barley itself is a partially refined version of whole-grain barley in which the outer hull is removed – thus removing some of it’s whole-grain goodness. That being said, it remains a higher source of fibre, iron and most other vitamins and minerals than the short grain arborio.
Whole grain barley just doesn’t lend itself well to the creamy texture you’ll be looking for in a risotto, so the pearled version is an excellent compromise.
If you would prefer to leave the wine out, you can substitute with a little extra stock and a squeeze of lemon juice for some acidity. For a vegetarian version, substitute the chicken stock for vegetable. You can even keep it vegan by leaving the parmesan cheese out.
Personally, I prefer the wine. A little for the risotto, a little for me.
The constant stirring will breakdown the starch in the barley grain and is the key to a creamy risotto.
Feel free to serve this dish along side something green and fresh to complement it’s richness.