It’s a hands-off, one pan, no fuss side, that frees you up for playing with blocks, cleaning up spills, blowing noses or threatening to take away ‘shows’. You know, the important parenting stuff.
The end result is a satisfying creamy, lemony, cheesy meal that gives you all the fancy-pants restaurant feels.
I’ve always loved risotto. It was one of the first special occasion meals I learned how to make. It’s not difficult and it’s not expensive, but it was always a special occasion meal because it required a lot of fussing. Keeping a vigil over the stove for an hour, adding one ladle of broth at a time while constantly stirring is just a ‘no’ at this point in my life.
So I’ve been testing short cuts.
You may have noticed I’m not using rice here. A traditional risotto uses a short-grain arborio rice. I swapped in pearl barley for rice years ago, simply because I prefer it. It has a much more chewy and satisfying texture, and it results in a creamier product without much stirring.
Remember this stir-heavy version of Mushroom and Barley Risotto from my pre-mother life? The same ingredients can be easily used with this new way smarter method.
It’s also more forgiving in terms of cooking time, so it will maintain a great texture even if you don’t hear the oven timer go off straight away.
If your fam are barley newbies, this is a great introductory recipe. In my home, we’re at a stage where my three year old is after all things white, brown and yellow with a consistent texture. Pasta, rice, bread are all favourites. Reserving a portion of the risotto before the spinach is stirred in, was a great way for me to introduce something new without it being too unfamiliar. I’m not making anything new or different, I’m simply being considerate to her current preferences. I’ll also offer a few plain spinach leaves on the side to ensure she get exposure to it, even if she doesn’t eat it.
I may serve my risotto alongside a source of protein and another veg, depending on what I feel like. For protein, sliced chicken, steak or a side of fish would work nicely. As would stirring in a can of white beans or some sautéed shrimp. But if you just want to eat it on it’s own, that’s cool too.
Another How to Eat one-pot-meal for the win!