Monday, November 26, 2012

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

The health experts say that we need to have lots of fiber in our diets while keeping the calories down. How can we accomplish this without sacrificing flavour? With a beautiful barley risotto! Barley is a fantastic grain that has a low Glycemic Index, and because of its density and starchiness makes a wonderfully rich and creamy risotto. We paired it with spring peas and asparagus to lighten it up and keep it fresh.

Barley takes longer to cook than arborio rice, but doesn't need to be monitored quite as carefully, just don't let the amount of liquid in the pot get too low.

Note: Use pearl barley, not pot barley or the dish will take over an hour to cook and need much more liquid.

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh english peas (you can also use frozen peas)
12 spears of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces. (the thinner asparagus is best)
2 tablespoons italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons goat cheese (like Chevre)
Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock to simmer, reduce heat to low and keep warm
2. In a large fry pan, saute shallot and garlic in olive oil until softened, do not brown.
3. Add barley, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir, coating the barley well, this will take about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the barley, cook on medium heat, stirring often until nearly absorbed.
5. Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently.
6. Barley is done once it is al dente, and surrounded with a thick creamy sauce. 
7. With the last addition of stock add the peas, asparagus and season to taste.
8. Stir in goat cheese and parsley to add some tanginess.
9. Serve immediately.

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