Risotto: Healthy Grain Style

Well, hello Foodies! The struggle for healthy comfort foods continues on at least a weekly basis for me and seemingly everyone else trying to eat better yet hold on to that delightful and nostalgic feeling of warm, bad for you food. One of my favorites is risotto, particularly mushroom risotto with a TON of Parmesan cheese. The lovely BrownEyedBakerseems to have stabled upon an easy “risotto” recipe using barley instead of rice, upping the good-for-you factor, maintaining its gluten-free and vegetarian (easily made vegan) attributes, and still achieving that fill-you-up-warmth of the fattest comfort foods. Not to mention its actually pretty darn easy, and reheats superbly in the oven at 350-ish. Why barley? It still has that stick to your ribs feeling without being overly processed so it maintains it’s status as a whole-food offering the body building blocks that it needs and readily knows what to do with. Enjoy and feel the comfort, my friends 🙂

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Ingredients: (for four)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 basket (8-12 ounces) cleaned and sliced crimini (baby bella)mushrooms, use the stems 🙂
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used powdered and it was fine, just a shake or two!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
½ cup parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and saute until they have released all of their liquid and are golden brown, about 10 minutes. You can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water if they start to stick.

3. Stir in the herbs and garlic, then add the barley and stir to coat for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

4. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium and add more broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the barley is tender but still slightly firm. You may not use all of the broth, but you will use most of it.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese, stirring until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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Update! Last night I felt like I needed a little more, so I added a poached egg. Totally worked!

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