Thursday, October 13, 2011

Barley Risotto

Risotto is one of those comfort foods that feels like fall. I like to make risotto with mushrooms, but have also used roasted butternut squash, or peas and carrots, or asparagus with equal success. By the way, I measure success as the request for seconds. Recently, I made mushroom risotto, and served it the day after one of my disasters that won't make it here! Everyone has a day when experiments simply don't work. I had one of those days last week. In fact, there was one avid reader, also a relative, who asked what happened to the zucchini latke recipe that was up ... for just a few hours. Yes, I took it down. It was a flop. The photos were nice, the recipe cooked up and looked exactly the way I wanted it to. But, the taste - yuck! Neither of us finished a small portion, and left overs were quickly tossed. I'll work on it again, but won't share the recipe until I get something that tastes as good as it looks! This may seem a long intro for barley risotto, the short version is that the day after that tasteless concoction, I served up this recipe, as an apology to my taste buds. They were delighted! Here it is.


1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped leeks or onions
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup barley
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbs chopped fresh sage
3 Tbs chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy creamer
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


Pour the chicken stock into a glass or nonreactive container and heat in the microwave. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped leeks or onions, garlic, and sliced mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the barley to the skillet and stir. Add the white wine, and cook until the wine is absorbed into the vegetables and barley. Add about half of the sage, parsley, and basil.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, stir the risotto, and cook until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until the barley is "al dente" - cooked through, but still with some bite to it. Add the creamer, stirring to heat, then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Strew the remaining herbs on top of the risotto before serving.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Barley is a high fiber grain that, like oats, has tremendous cholesterol lowering potential. In addition to helping lower cholesterol, the high fiber and low sodium help to manage high blood pressure and avoid certain forms of cancer. Eating whole grains and high fiber grains work as a healthy eating habit in two major ways. With oats and barley, beta-glucan is absorbed into the blood stream, then helps lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and excreting them from the body through feces. The fiber in whole grains like barley helps digestion and improves how well the colon functions. This helps guard the body against many diseases of the colon.

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