I love risotto! It’s one of those dishes that sound so sophisticated yet easier to make than you think. If you want to look like a pro at your next get together, risotto is the way to go!
The term risotto really refers to the cooking technique. The rice is cooked in a broth forming a creamy texture. That being said, who says you can’t change the grain and still get a creamy dish? I have made risotto using arborio rice, farro grain, whole buckwheat and of course barley.
The key with a risotto is slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush it, the grain should be cooked on a simmer so that it is cooked thoroughly and evenly.
Another good point is you can’t watch your soap operas in between stirs. No matter what, even if Victor Newman is out of his coma and about to speak for the first time, you don’t want to burn the risotto. The broth is added one ladle at a time and stirred in evenly. Once the broth is almost completely absorbed, add another ladle.
If you run out of broth, I add a extra water to my liquid and keep it on a pot over the stove to let it boil. You don’t want to add cold or room temperature water to your risotto.
When it comes to what you add to your risotto, that’s totally up to you. In this recipe I stuck with simple vegetables. You can add meat, fish, butter, saffron, whatever you like! What I like to do is sautee the vegetables first, set them aside then add it after once the grain is cooked through. This avoids soggy vegetables later.
- Vegetables of your choice, but this is what I used in this recipe:
- 1/2 roasted squash, diced.
- 2 carrots, diced.
- 2 celery stalks, diced.
- 1/2 white onion, chopped.
- 1 zucchini, diced.
- 2 cups of barley, rinsed.
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper for taste
- 1 cup of white wine (a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc is nice)
- 5-6 cups cups of broth (I have used both chicken or vegetable)
- In a large pan heat up 2 tablespoons of EVOO (medium high)
- Add onion, carrots, celery and zucchini and sauté until translucent (7-10 minutes) It is important to season your vegetables separately from the barley, so add your salt and pepper to your liking.
- Place vegetables aside into a separate dish and add another tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.
- Add the rinsed barley into the pan and let it fry for about 2-3 minutes, stirring it so it doesn’t stick or burn.
- Pour white wine into the pan and stir it into the mixture.
- Once the wine starts to absorb, add a ladle of broth.
- Keep adding a ladle of broth as the barley continues to absorb it. You want to make sure the barley does not stick to the pan, so just before it is fully absorbed, add another ladle.
- Continue doing this for about 30-40 minutes (the barley should have a chewy texture in the end, it won’t be soft like rice)
- Add salt, a dash of pepper for taste and combine in mixture.
- Combine the sautéed vegetables, let it sit over the stove for a few minutes and serve.