barely barley

I’ll admit, I wasn’t looking for a risotto recipe when I stumbled upon this little gem. We had stopped at a great little seafood restaurant out of town and my husband ordered a side of black eyed peas and rice. I had some and then some more and then I ate pretty much all of it  we shared the rest evenly between us. I’m not sure that I’ve had black eyed peas many times but they are delicious! I knew right when I got home I’d have to find some excuse to fit them in a meal—the alternative to me eating an entire can on its own. This twist on traditional risotto using barley sounded fun. It came out hearty and comforting, and reheated really well. We ate it with some gourmet style chicken apple sausages which made for a great meal. I can’t wait to try it out on a cold winter day—excuse me, I mean our one winter day here in FL—it was perfectly tender, warm, and could be a nice deviation from chili in the colder months. And it’s versatile–switch the type of broth, beans, and veggies to make the perfect flavor for you.

barley risotto with beans and greens
from smittenkitchen who got it from Food and Wine

5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
¼ teaspoon thyme
½ cup white wine (optional)
1 cup pearled barley (7 ounces)
1 cup beans, canned or precooked (I used black eyed peas)
3 cups chopped escarole
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to top
2  tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  • In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 6 minutes.
  •  Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine if using and cook, stirring until absorbed, about one minute. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time in six additions — you’ll have a cup of stock left in the pot — stirring until it is nearly absorbed between additions.
  •  Stir it in until the risotto is on the loose side, then add the beans and let them cook for a minute. Add the escarole and let it wilt and then cook for an additional minute. Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve at once, passing more cheese at the table. Enjoy!

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