This can be made completely vegetarian by using vegetable broth and by omitting the bacon and using olive oil for the fat.
I adapted this from the usual Risotto I make with Arborio rice. This was really good. A great way to add vegetables to my son's diet without him really paying attention. I used zucchini, green beans and asparagus in this one.
RisaG’s Barley “Risotto” with Bacon & Roasted Vegetables
Prep time: 1/2 hour or so if roasting the vegetables first
Cook time: approximately 1 hr 10 minutes if you include vegetable roasting time (I roasted the vegetables the day before so I just had to chop them and cook them in the "risotto")
1 cup barley, rinsed
1/2 cup wine (red or white)
6 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 cups roasted vegetables*, chopped
4 strips bacon, cooked**
Parsley leaves, chopped
Basil leaves, julienned
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat a cast iron skillet over MED-HIGH heat. Meanwhile, place a 2 quart saucepan over MED heat. Add the chicken broth (or veg broth) and heat it up until it starts to simmer. Keep it at a low simmer throughout the cooking time.
Add the oil and heat it up. Add the barley. Stir until coated with the oil. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it evaporates. Add the broth, 1/2 cup or so at a time, and keep stirring. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, uncover, add more broth, stir, and cover. Keep doing this until the barley is al dente. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped vegetables and cooked bacon. Stir well and let the bacon re-crisp a bit. Then stir it all together. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are heated through, the bacon is crisp. Add some chopped parsley and chopped basil. Add the butter and stir it in. Taste for seasoning. Re-season if necessary. Serve, garnished with some more parsley, basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
*to roast the vegetables (I used zucchini, green beans and asparagus) – place vegetables on a baking sheet that has been drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of salt. Rub the vegetables into the oil and salt and drizzle with more oil, if you wish. Roast at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour, turning the vegetables after 15 minutes, and then remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Chop up the vegetables. I used 4 spears asparagus, a small handful of green beans and 1 medium zucchini, sliced.
**I pre-roast my bacon about every 1-1/2 months. I place a cooling rack on a large sheet pan. I place a whole pound of bacon on the cooling rack, and roast at 400 for 1/2 hour, turning it over halfway through (seems to cook it more evenly). I let it cool and then package it in ziptop bags for the freezer. When I want to use some, I remove the strips I want to use, about 1/2 hour before cooking. They re-heat very quickly and crisp up really nicely.
Yield: 3 large servings
Posted by RisaG 3/18/12