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Risotto-Style Barley

I’m slowly becoming a big fan of barley.  There is something very hearty and comforting about barley.  What I don’t really get is why barley needs to be made like risotto.  I mean, if I want something risotto-like, I should probably just make risotto.  But it is probably a slightly better for you version of risotto, and while it seems like I’m giving the recipe a hard time, I’m really not.

Because this recipe is so good!  It’s from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking, and it came out really well.  I didn’t add any parmesan cheese, because I thought I had some, and then realized I didn’t have any, but it was still really good!  The lemon and orange makes it feel like a summer dish, but there is something wintery about it too.  It’s definitely a keeper!

Risotto-Style Barley

Slightly Adapted from Super Natural Cooking


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups lightly pearled barley
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or water)
  • 6 cups water
  • Zest and juice from 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 big handfuls of arugula or spinach, coarsely chopped


  1. Heat butter over medium heat in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, and salt and saute for a bout 4 minutes, or until onion begins to soften.
  2. Add the barley and stir until coated with a nice sheen.  Add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed some of the liquid.  Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer as necessary.
  3. Add the water, 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between each addition.  This takes around 40 minutes.  The barley is cooked when it doesn’t offer much resistance when cooking.
  4. Add the juice of the orange, as well as the orange and lemon zest, the Parmesan cheese and the sour cream.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Stir in the arugula, serve and enjoy!

About wingedcreature

I love reading and I spend a lot of time crocheting. I'm also a big fan of podcasts and t.v.

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