Barley Risotto

Making Barley Risotto

Glycemic index is one of those terms that didn’t mean much to me until the last few years.  Many of us seniors are prone to the development of Type 2 diabetes and as a result, we need to find ways to get healthy fiber and protein in our diets without overeating.  Our metabolisms have slowed way down but our appetite hasn’t gone the same direction, resulting in spare tires around our waists and hips.  Low glycemic foods fill you up, don’t cause spikes in blood sugar and don’t metabolize quickly leaving you satisfied a lot longer.

With that in mind, I LOVE rice in all its forms:  short, medium or long grain, white brown, red or black.  Sadly, most rice is high glycemic (even brown rice) with a few like brown basmati being medium.  I have found numerous ways to substitute barley (low glycemic) in rice dishes.  Making risotto with barley equals 6 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per ¼ cup dry serving.  Adding edamame packs another 11 grams of protein and 9 more grams of fiber!  Can’t lose with that combination.

This was my first time making a risotto with barley and while I found dozens of different recipes, none of them specified the type of barley.  Live and learn.  Barley can be Pearl Barley (what I had) which only has the outer hull removed so all that lovely bran is still there resulting in a chewy, nutty grain.  Hull-less barley has both the inner and out bran removed so it’s not quite as nutritious but still takes a while to cook.  Quick barley only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to cook but is the least nutritious.  It is precooked and dried before packaging.  After 35 minutes of stirring this concoction, I finally resorted to putting a lid on it and letting it steam/simmer for about 15 minutes and then went back to the add liquid and stir process.  In the future, if using Pearl Barley (which I recommend both for flavor and for nutrition) I suggest precooking the barley for about 20 minutes, drain and then prepare the risotto.  You’ll notice there is no salt added.  The concentration of the stock and the onion, plus the added parm were enough salt for me but feel free to add if you like.

Edamame and Barley Risotto with Carmelized Onions

¼ C barley

1 C water

½ small yellow onion, diced

1 T olive oil

¼ C white wine

2 C low sodium chicken stock

1 C water

1 C chopped kale

½ C frozen edamame

scan ½ tsp dried summer savory

1 T shredded parmesan

pepper to taste


Precook the barley in the 1 C water for about 20 minutes.  Drain the liquid and add to the chicken stock and water.  Heat the liquid and leave on warm setting.

Caramelize the chopped onion over medium low heat.  Remove the onion from the pan and add the barley.  Toast until coated with the oil and the grains are starting to brown a bit.

Add the onion back and deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add about ½ cup of hot liquid to the barley and onion and stir.

Continue adding liquid in increments until the barley is al dente.  Depending on the type of barley, this can take up to 35 minutes.

If, like me, you need a bit more liquid, use plain water in small amounts.

Add the kale, edamame and savory.  Continue to cook for about 3 minutes.

Top with the cheese and enjoy.


About unveiledpdx

Retired Grandma with a passion for food.
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One Response to Barley Risotto

  1. Linda Nygaard says:

    I’ve never heard of barley risotto but I love barley, so this is on my list to try. Thanks, Pam!

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