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Recipe for Midwestern Barley Pumpkin Risotto
Using barley in place of rice for risotto is a major bonus for several reasons. First, it omits the need for constant stirring that makes traditional risotto-making so arduous. Second, using barley adds nutrients. Barley is an excellent source of fiber and thiamin. Pumpkin is also highly nutritious. It is an excellent source of beta-carotene, and rich in vitamin C, potassium, fiber and manganese. When shopping for this recipe, please note that barley comes in several varieties. Use pearled barley for this dish, not quick-cooking, which will be far too soft.
5 cups vegetable broth (try Kitchen Basics, it's nice and rich)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 shallots, minced fine (1/2 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, minced fine
2 large stalks celery (or 4 celery hearts), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups pumpkin (or Kabocha squash), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Bring vegetable broth to a very slow simmer. Heat olive oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, and celery. Cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Add barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add white wine and cook, stirring, until wine is completely absorbed. Add 4 cups broth. Turn off heat under remaining cup of broth, cover, and reserve for later. Simmer barley, covered, over low heat, 45 minutes. Add pumpkin, final cup of broth, and salt. Cook covered 15 minutes more. Remove from heat, add parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper to taste. Let rest 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.