My first memory of risotto was the premiere season of Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey from back in the day. He actually smooshes plates of inferior risottos onto the front of the contestants chef coats. One unfortunate gent was named Dewberry. Poor guy. I still feel sorry for him. Not really the most pleasant memory to say the least. 😉
Your standard restaurant-style risottos that, although amazingly delicious, are no doubt loaded with butter, salt and cheese. Not really classified as an Honour System regular.
Enter barley. It’s a nice whole grain that has bite. A bit of a chew factor like the Arborio pasta used in traditional risotto.
To add lots of flavours without adding unhealthy ingredients, I used a few different spices and veggies. What pairs nicer together than tomato and dill? Sprinkle with some parsley and freshly grated parmesan? Boom!
I also thought I’d lightly caramelize the red onion. Granted, I didn’t have the time to slowly caramelize them in the true sense, but I let them get nice and tender and soft over a lower heat before stirring in the garlic.
Add a can of diced tomatoes and the dill. I love me some dill! If you have access to fresh, please use it. If you’re stuck with the dried stuff don’t feel bad. I’m right there with you. It was dried dill from the cupboard for me. Dried rosemary too. Can’t leave out rosemary. 🙂
Cover it all with some hot water.
Unlike fussy risottos where you are constantly stirring and stirring, this meal comes together fairly easily. Just stir every so often, adding a little more broth or water to the pot if needed.
The finishing touch is the grated parmesan cheese. I highly recommend it as the punch of salty cheese just brings everything together.
This is a great lazy weekend supper with a nice light salad and maybe some crusty bread. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup pearl barley rinsed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ large red onion sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tin of diced tomatoes 398 ml
- 2 tsp dry dill
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Pinch of red pepper flakes optional
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1 ½ cups hot water
- freshly grated parmesan optional but so good!
In a medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Stir in the garlic. Careful not to burn, stir for about a minute
Add in the barley, tomatoes, spices, tomato paste and 1 cup of the hot water. Stir it all together and let it simmer for 40-50 minutes, occasionally stirring
Add in ¼ cup of hot water after 15 minutes and then again 15 minutes later to make sure the barley still has liquid to cook in.
Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan