Barley Risotto with Spinach and Walnuts

Over the last two months, I’ve gone from thinking barley was just in weird soups at mediocre restaurants to being more than a little obsessed with it. I recently had a craving for risotto, and when I saw that Heidi Swanson had made some with barley in Super Natural Cooking, I was immediately inspired.

I made a few changes to the recipe in the book because using both orange and lemon seemed like it would be citrus overkill for me. I also used spinach instead of arugula because I just like spinach a whole lot more. This doesn’t get as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice, but it’s much healthier and Mike called it one of the best things I’ve made lately (which is probably because my attempt at vegan macaroni and cheese last night was a GIGANTIC flop). So, you want risotto but you’re trying to eat more whole grains? Here you go!

Recipe:
(inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few pinches of salt
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.
Add the barley and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate pan.
Stir in the wine and keep at a simmer. Stir in the broth, one cup at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed between additions. You may not need to add all the broth, but you’ll know when you’ve added enough because the barley will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Stir in the lemon zest and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve, sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

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