Barley and Roasted Tomato Risotto

28 Jul

I was excited when I came across this recipe over at the Mayo Clinic website because it meets all of my criteria- It is healthy, inexpensive, and it doesn’t require the oven.  Also, it is a great way to use up a bunch of garden tomatoes.  I have yet to experience garden fresh tomato burn out but I hear it happens.

Risotto is an wonderful dish.  Basically, you slowly cook rice with broth adding more liquid little by little until it has a creamy consistency.   I love that you can make it so many different ways.  I know the mushroom risotto that I made for my Mom to accompany a lamb roast was a hit and what about my Firecraker Scallop with Spinach Risotto?  Yum!  This version trades out the traditional rice for one of my favorite grains, pearl barley.  Barley is a little nutty and chewy plus it’s a good source of fiber and selenum.

I followed the recipe pretty closely except instead of using the oven I put my tomatoes on the broiler.  While the tomatoes were roasting, I brought the water and broth to a boil and sauteed the shallots in a large skillet with EVOO and added a little white wine.  There is actually no butter used in this recipe, only this tablespoon of heart healthy EVOO.

When the shallots were translucent I added the barley.  Then I added my liquid  (water/broth mixture) 1/2 cup at a time to the barley.

Herb action! Lemon thyme and basil from the garden.

When the barley has absorbed all of the liquid, add everything- barley, tomatoes, herbs, parmesan cheese to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

The result? A decadent, creamy dish that tastes way worse for you than it really is.  Enjoy it with a glass of chilled white wine.

My husband required meat so I added some shrimp to his risotto.  Saute the shrimp in a skillet with some lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Here is the original recipe (from Mayo Clinic):

Barley and roasted tomato risotto

By Mayo Clinic staff

Dietitian’s tip: When cooked slowly, barley takes on a creamy texture like that of the short-grain arborio rice used in Italian risottos — but with a lot more fiber. Serve as a hearty side dish or light vegetarian main course.

Serves 8 (I made a half recipe)


10 large plum (Roma) tomatoes, about 2 pounds total weight, peeled and each cut into 4 wedges (I used a mixture of heirloom and cherry from my garden)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
3 cups water
2 shallots, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine, optional
2 cups pearl barley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra ungrated Parmesan for making curls for garnish


Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Toss gently to mix. Roast until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside 16 tomato wedges to use for a garnish. (I roasted my tomatoes in the broiler)

In a saucepan, combine the vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep at a simmer.

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and saute until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the white wine, if using, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup of the stock mixture and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed, stirring occasionally. Continue stirring in the stock mixture in 1/2 cup increments, cooking each time until the liquid is absorbed before adding more, until the barley is tender, 45 to 50 minutes total. Remove from the heat and fold in the tomatoes, chopped basil, parsley, thyme and grated cheese. Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine.

Divide the risotto among warmed individual shallow bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted tomato wedges and the whole basil leaves. Using a vegetable peeler, cut a curl or two of Parmesan cheese for topping each serving.

Nutritional Analysis

(per serving)

Calories 285 Monounsaturated fat 4 g
Protein 9 g Cholesterol 6 mg
Carbohydrate 46 g Sodium 480 mg
Total fat 8 g Fiber 9 g
Saturated fat 2 g

I hope you had a great week.  Tomorrow is Friday (yay!) and I am looking forward to a fun (birthday) weekend!  Tomorrow is private patient visits and then I am stopping by Northwestern to finish up some last minute corporate items (i.e. my 150th TB test, etc,etc…).  I can’t wait to get started!

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