Although a reader recently pointed out that pearl barley is not a whole grain (I’m glad I know that now, but it was definitely a disappointment), it’s still healthier than Arborio rice, and is now my go-to for risottos.
We’re well into Brussels sprout season here, which might be a bummer for some people, but it’s my favorite time of the year! We bought a big basket at the farmers market and ate them simply roasted and sprinkled with salt for about four nights in a row, until I realized that there were other great things to do with Brussels sprouts. Like make this risotto!
If you’re a purist, you can obviously use Arborio rice instead of barley. If you do, you can probably skip the sour cream at the end, but I like adding it for the little extra creaminess that barley doesn’t provide. The combination of brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese perfectly satisfies my cold-weather craving for comfort food with the bright green promise of spring coming soon (but who am I kidding…there were a lot of days in January and February that felt like spring). If there’s anything that would serve perfectly as a signature dish for the month of March, it would be this.
(adapted from Daily Unadventures in Cooking )
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
about 20 medium brussels srpouts, halved
2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup pearl barley
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add the brussels sprouts to the skillet with a big pinch of salt and stir a few times. Cook the brussels sprouts until nicely browned, about 15 minutes, flipping them about every 5 minutes (turn the heat down if they start to get too dark).
Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium low heat .
Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another two minutes, then add the barley and cook for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the white wine and bring to a simmer. Once most of the wine has evaporated, add the broth, one cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed before adding more. The risotto is finished once the barley is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and sour cream.