Barley risotto is a balanced meal idea that’s easy to cook and takes lesser time than your traditional bowl of risotto. Rich, wholesome and healthier. What’s more, the taste and texture of cooked barley is staggeringly similar to Arborio rice, but has higher fiber content and thus better for you.Jump to Recipe
I love Italian specialties – they’re what comes to my mind when it comes to simple yet luxuriant comfort food. Risotto is my happy place, but I’m not a huge fan of the free starch overload and calorie bomb that is rice plus copious amounts of butter and cheese. Also, the price and availability of Arborio rice at a small coastal town called Vizag is always questionable. I’m sure that’s how the idea of substituting risotto rice with barley popped in chefs’ minds all around, given how similar their texture and size is, once cooked.
What makes barley a superfood ingredient?
The use of barley grains in place of Arborio rice is total genius from a nutritional point of view – barley is a rich source of protein and fiber, along with vitamin B-6 and minerals like iron, molybdenum, selenium and magnesium. Barley as a healthy wholegrain can
Also, by introducing barley into your regular diet you’d be eating locally-grown grains and encouraging Indian farmers to cultivate more of this low-resource consuming, soil-friendly crop.
What are the ingredients in my Barley Risotto?
Barley – Please bear in mind that this wholesome superfood comes in 2 forms: hulled and pearl. Hulled barley has its outer bran layer intact, and thus boasts of higher fiber content. Whereas pearl barley is mostly stripped of its bran cover, but still is high in nutrition and antioxidant content.
I prefer using pearl barley as its more easily available in stores, cooks quickly and offers a creamy, soft texture in contrast to hulled barley which can offer an uneven, fibrous texture upon cooking.
Water – I cook the barley pearls in plain water. You could use chicken stock too to make it all the more flavorful and nutritional.
Cheese – I’ve not skipped out on cheese – I did add and garnish with a reasonable amount; just toned it down to accommodate in my calorie count. Butter was replaced with the good old olive oil.
Spinach & Bell peppers – While the classic risotto doesn’t use vegetables, I added bell peppers and spinach for additional nutrients, color, and flavor.
Onions & garlic – That divine fragrance of minced garlic, lovingly cooked in olive oil is what makes this dish flavorful. Onions bring in great flavor too.
Looking for some more healthier Italian recipes?
Do try my
- Homemade Wholewheat Pizza,
- Spinach Whole-Wheat Pasta in Avocado Mushroom Sauce
- Squid Ink Pasta with Smoked Salmon, Citrus & Cream Cheese
- Tomato Soup With Basil Oil recipes!
How to make Creamy Barley Risotto
First, rinse and soak the barley grains beforehand for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water and set barley grains aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a thick-bottomed pot and add finely chopped onions and minced garlic. Keep stirring so it doesn’t brown or char.
As the raw smell disappears and onions are transparent, add the barley grains, salt and stir. Add water in small quantities herein and keep stirring simultaneously so the grains don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. About a cup of water and approximately 10 minutes later, you should notice the barley grains attaining the al dente (firm to bite) texture.
Add chopped bell peppers and grated parmesan. Lastly as you stir, add the spinach chiffonade and turn the flame off once the parmesan has melted.
I’d love to hear how this recipe turned out for you, if you tried it. Do post a pic on Instagram and tag #fitfoodiediary in the picture!
I recommend adding the chopped bell peppers and spinach right before turning the flame off, so that their essential nutrients remain intact, as scientific evidence suggests that vitamins A & C are heat-sensitive. If you cannot stand the taste of partially-fried greens, you can add them in the beginning stage itself but this will hurt the nutrition profile of the dish.
Healthy Creamy Barley Risotto | Quick Meal Fix Ideas
- 100 g barley hulled
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 5-6 garlic pods finely minced
- 1 red bell peppers diced
- 1 cup spinach washed, chiffonade or cut in thin strips
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2-3 cups Water
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- First, rinse and soak the barley grains beforehand for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water and set barley grains aside.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a thick-bottomed pot and add finely chopped onions and minced garlic. Keep stirring so it doesn’t brown or char.
- As the raw smell disappears and onions are transparent, add the barley grains, salt and stir. Add water in small quantities herein and keep stirring simultaneously so the grains don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. About a cup of water and approximately 10 minutes later, you should notice the barley grains attaining the al dente (firm to bite) texture.
- Add chopped bell peppers and spinach. Lastly, turn off the flame and add the grated parmesan just before you serve.
- Devour whilst hot!