Here is a healthier twist on the classic risotto. Barley is higher in fibre and more nutrient-dense than traditional Arborio rice and has the heart-protective beta-glucan fibre. The parmesan cheese added during the baking process helps to lend itself to a creamy and delicious risotto and the hazelnuts add a nice crunch.
1/4cupparmesan cheesefinely grated (plus more for serving)
1lemonzest and juice
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Add the 4 cups of vegetable stock, 1 1/2 cups of barley and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, remove from heat and add the boiled barley and stock to a 12 x 12 baking pan. Cover with tin foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While the barley is baking prepare the asparagus by trimming off the woody ends - about 1 to 2 inches. You also want to make sure the asparagus is going to fit into your baking pan, so trim more if needed.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and trimmed asparagus and cook for a further 3 minutes. Set aside.
When the barley is finished baking, remove it from the oven. Taste it for doneness, making sure it is tender, and for seasoning, adding more salt as needed. Sprinkle over half of the lemon zest and half of the grated parmesan cheese and gently mix in. From the frying pan with the cooked asparagus and onion, move the asparagus over to one side with a large spoon and scoop the onions into the barley, mixing them in. Next place the asparagus on top of the barley, laying them in a neat row.
Return the barley with asparagus into the oven and bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and top with the rest of the parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and the juice from half the lemon and the chopped hazelnuts if using.
Making A Vegan Barley Risotto
To make this risotto vegan you can replace the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.
Making A Spinach Barley Risotto
Cook the spinach with the onion and garlic and add it to the cooked barley along with the parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Return it to the oven for 5 minutes.
Making A Butternut Squash Barley Risotto
Cube your squash into 1-inch cubes, and roast it in oil for 20-30 minutes. Fold the roasted squash into the risotto before serving
Yes, you can, but it would just need about 10 minutes longer to cook and about 1 extra cup of vegetable stock. The resulting risotto will be slightly less creamy.
Can I Make This Barley Risotto On The Stove Top?
You certainly can! I have shared a stovetop barley risotto recipe here Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale. To make this recipe on the stovetop, cook the onion and garlic in a large frying pan and then add the barley and stock. Cook the asparagus in a separate frying pan and top the cooked barley with the pan-fried asparagus.
How To Make This A Creamy Risotto
Add extra parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter before returning to the oven for 5 minutes.