Friday, January 15, 2010

Beet Barley Risotto with Wilted Beet Greens

Sorry for my absence this week. We have had a lot going on this week, much more than normal. I had forgotten that part of our eye exams yesterday would be the drops that dilate your eyes. I looked stoned for half a day after the exam. With my eyes dilated I wasn’t able to read easily so I didn’t even try to do anything on the computer. After our eye appointments my hubby decided to take the day off with me, which was really nice. He has gone back to work today so my day today will return to normal.

On Wednesday of this week I spent the day with my friend Sue and we were cooking for hours. This was the day we decided to veganize the first few recipes from the cookbook. It was a good thing we decided to make the dishes together as there was a lot of cooking and cleaning that was required to make three dishes at once. Had I been doing this by myself I would have had to start making dinner right after breakfast.

As part of the “cookbook project” we needed one beet to make beet chips. They were only sold in a bunch of 6 beets so I decided we would make a beet barley risotto for our lunch before we started making dinner. This is what we had on Wednesday for lunch.

Beet Barley Risotto with Wilted Beet Greens
Serves 6


1 small yellow onion (about 1 cup), peeled and chopped
¼ cup water to sauté
pinch of salt
2 cups barley
½ cup dry white wine
water (or vegetable stock) sufficient to cook barley
2 cups beets (5 medium beets, finely diced into about ¼ inch pieces)
1 ½ teaspoons dill weed
salt and pepper, as necessary
beet greens and stems from the 5 beets, finely chopped


Water sauté onion with the pinch of salt until the onion is soft. Add barley and white wine and mix. Add diced beets, dill, 2 cups of water, and simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to add water and stir until the barley is tender (about 40 minutes). Taste the risotto and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper and dill) as necessary. When the barley is tender turn off the heat and stir in the beet greens and serve immediately. If desired you can drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil when serving.

Dan and I had leftover beet risotto for lunch yesterday. It reheated well in the microwave.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 256.39
Calories From Fat (3%) - 7.08

Total Fat - 0.85g
Saturated Fat - 0.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 151.29mg
Potassium - 511.68mg
Total Carbohydrates - 54.94g
Fiber - 12.04g
Sugar - 1.31g
Protein - 7.63g


If you like beets you will love this risotto. It is the most beautiful magenta color. The barley is tender and the beet greens have a little firmness.

Each serving of this recipe is packed with nutrition containing approximately 2,400IU of vitamin A, 80mg of calcium, 3mg of iron, 25mcg of folate, 150mcg of vitamin K, 170mg of phosphorus, 85mg of magnesium, and 25mcg of selenium. Not too bad for something we decided to make on the fly after having more beets than we needed for beet chips.

Unrelated Note:

I haven’t had time to exercise since Tuesday so I really need to do that this morning. I also need to catch up on responding to comments and reading blogs. I hope to have time to post at least one more recipe today (hopefully more). Talk to you all again soon.


  1. This looks amazing!! LOVE that bright red color!

  2. Anna,

    Thanks! :) I love the color of dishes made with beet too.

    My hubby loves beets so he was really happy we intentionally made leftovers.


  3. I absolutely hate it when I have to have my eyes dilated and it always lasts longer than they say. Honestly, I've only ever taken a teeny bite of a beet. Kind of scared of them. This looks like such a festive dish though! Hope you're able to catch some "me" time today.

  4. Heather,

    I couldn’t focus close up until after 6pm last evening, which was rather inconvenient. I had planned to be so productive yesterday and that went right out the window since I couldn’t see well.

    Why are you scared of beets? Did you have a bad experience with them as a child? I always thought I hated them, because my mother made those nasty canned ones. When beets are fresh they are completely different from the canned version. I scrub them vigorously and then trim away and scraggy bits of flesh that could hold sand. When they are organic I leave most of the skin on. Fresh beets have a fresh sweet flavor that reminds me of parsnip or a carrot. They are wonderful tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven. That was the method I first used with them and I loved them immediately. They are so good for you too. ;)


  5. I love beets and that is absolutely STUNNING!! I will sure be making this.
    I haven't been on much this week, it's been really busy here too.
    At my eye dr. they wanted me to fill out forms after they were done with me and my eyes were dilated. I could not read anything!

  6. Janet,

    If you prefer red wine this is also great with either Chianti or Amarone. That is what I typically use but we were going to be using white wine in another recipe so we decided not to open two bottles. Both work fine, but I am partial to the red wine. When I use red wine I finish this dish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a little almond feta.

    I know the eye doctor has to give those drops for the glaucoma test but they sure do a number on my eyes. Dan was joking that we were "mole people" after leaving the eye doctor. It was a good description. We were both squinting and had on polarized sunglasses and have tinted windows in our car.

    Fill out the forms after the drops? Are they crazy? I was happy I didn't trip over the curb leaving the office. No way I could fill out forms.


  7. Hi, Alicia. First off, great photo - I love the shadows across the bowl. I would have never guessed that one could do a beet risotto. Very creative. I made my first risotto about a year ago, and I loved it. Did you and Dan both get your eyes dilated at the same appt.? That would have been funny to see you two trying to lead each other down the hall afterwards. :) I'm going to skip over to your other site to see what's cookin'. Have a great day!

  8. Blessed Mama,

    Yes, Dan and I were foolish enough to both get our eyes dilated at the same time. Good thing we have tinted windows and dark glasses. Otherwise it would have been really tough to get home.

    Glad you like the risotto idea. Since I discovered that I like beets I have been rather obsessed with them. I loved the shadows on the bowl too. Thanks for letting me know you did too.

    I am writing the first few posts for the new blog now. With a little luck I will get one or two of them posted today. I will put a link here when I do so that you guys know since the blog is new.

    talk to you soon,

  9. I don't even remember having them as a child, but that's quite possible. I guess at some point I convinced myself that I didn't like them!

  10. Heather,

    I had myself totally convinced I hated beets too. Once I gave them a serious try I found out that I really liked them. My hubby was thrilled since he had been beet deprived most of our many years together. I think you will be surprised that they are much better than you expect (I was quite shocked). Now I love them. Yes, I did a complete 180 on beets.

    talk to you later,

  11. Wow! This dish looks absolutely amazing! I always enjoy eating beets but I've never cooked it myself. You made me feel that it's not too hard to give it a try, thanks for such a great and healthy recipe.

    I was wondering last night where Alicia was because I didn't see any new posts and here you are! I'm so glad you're back, hope your eyes are okay. I used to have the drop s to dilate my eyes a couple times and I had to wear sunglasses all day long.

  12. Oraphan,

    When cooking beets the only thing you need to be careful of is that you remove all the grit from the skin and leaves. They tend to be really sandy like leeks.

    I am writing the first post for the new blog now. That is where I am going to put all the modified recipes from Ad Hoc at Home. The first post should be up soon.


  13. Alicia, this looks great. Another one that I'll have to make. Would this work without the wine? Whenever we buy wine for a recipe, we don't know what to do with the remainder since we don't drink it. Would I be ruining the recipe if I were to forgo the wine?

  14. Matt,

    The wine will add depth of flavor to the recipe but isn't required. Since you want to omit it add a couple of tablespoons of wine, champagne or sherry vinegar. It will add a little tang and background flavor that will be close to the original.

    This is also good with a little almond feta and fresh parsley on top. That will increase the flavor a little more which will be good since you want to eliminate the wine.

    Glad you liked the sound of this. Barley risotto is one of our favorites.


  15. I agree with all the other praise you've received thus far - that is a beautiful photo of a lovely dish! I've long avoided eating all beets but those of the pickled persuasion, but I decided not long ago I need to try them again in non-pickled form, and this may just be the recipe that starts me on my quest. :-)
    Picturing you and Dan doing your "Mole People" routine made me LOL. Good thing you weren't pulled over on your way home, imagine explaining your eyeballs to a cop! 8-) The last time I had my pupils dilated, I promised my eye doc I'd email him a vegan recipe when I got home (bless him, he asks for new ones every year), but I got distracted and forgot till the next day. So when I emailed it, I told him the delay was caused when I stopped at the pharmacy on my way home, and with my freaky stoner eyes tried to buy 15 boxes of Sudafed, got arrested and spent the night in jail. (He saved that email and loves to remind me of it every year. Sick, sick man). ;-)

  16. Laurie,

    Glad I could make you laugh today. We looked ridiculous yesterday. My pupils haven't been that big since college (and that was a long, long time ago).

    Love the story you told you eye doctor. That is a riot. I just love your sense of humor.

    You should try this dish. I was a beet hater 3 years ago. Or, it would be more correct to say I had convinced myself that I hated them. Now I love them.

    talk to you later,


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