Barley Risotto with Coconut, Squash, and Corn

I used to think risotto was some fancy stuff you buy at only restaurants. And to be honest, I never even knew what ingredient was used to make risotto. It's simple though- rice.

I was walking around our new Trader Joe's store in Boulder and came across a bag of barley. And I stopped and thought, what could I make with barley? And I've never made risotto before, but something clicked and said, you should make risotto. Just like that.

But why not use rice to make risotto? Well, barley is a superfood and today, everyone's using superfoods now in their everyday recipes, mainly because they're so widely available.

Barley is an ancient grain rich with antioxidants, low calories, and a low glycemic index.
  • FIBER-good bacteria for the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. Also, lowers cholesterol.
  • VITAMIN B (niacin)- Also helps reduce cholesterol and lipoprotein levels. Niacin provides numerous protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors. Also, helps reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • MAGNESIUM- found in whole grains, and helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
There are, I'm sure, many health benefits of barley, so I'll let you read on if you'd like to learn more. Oprah even wrote about it, Dr. Perricone's No. 3 Superfood: Barley.

Now, for the tasty part.

I pretty much begin every meal with the above. I like to spend about 15-20 minutes just chopping, dicing, and slicing my ingredients. It really helps with cooking times when you've got everything prepared ahead of time.

This makes A LOT of risotto, so you can make the entire recipe and save leftovers for the week, or cut the recipe in half.

  • 1 small bag of barley, about 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups butternut squash diced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 can coconut milk, 1 cup
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 1/2 can corn, drained
  • salt and pepper and garlic powder
  • thyme
  • coconut flakes
  1. In a saute pan, saute your oil, onions, and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in butternut squash and cook for about 6-7 more minutes until the squash is starting to become tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring broth and coconut milk to boil. Then, bring down the heat to let simmer.
  4. After the squash is tender, add barley to your saute pan, and your white wine. Let simmer until the barley soaks up the wine.
  5. Now, here's the harder, more annoying part. Add about 1/2 cup of your broth/milk to you barley at a time. Once the barley soaks up the liquid, then add more. Keep adding more liquid until you run out. You can always add more liquid if you feel you need it. 
  6. Once your barley is tender, spice your risotto with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp thyme. Taste and add more spices if you'd like.
  7. Plate, and add coconut flakes to add a coconut flavor, and so it looks like cheese :)
 *This is not a gluten free recipe. Barley contains wheat.

Also, look how cool this is! I was slicing my squash and the squash I wasn't using, was sweating!

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Maira Gall