Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spanish Flavored Barley Risotto with Mushroom

Dan and I tend to plan dinner together on the weekends. What this really means is that I am tired of planning what to have for dinner and am looking for suggestions. Plus Dan knows that what I make on Sunday will turn up in his lunch for a few days so he has a vested interest. In the morning after we have breakfast we start discussing the options for dinner. It usually starts with the fresh produce we have on hand and then we move on from there. We always make a big green salad, this is a given. Today’s salad was a simple one of baby spinach dressed with lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, brined artichokes and red bell peppers. The salad was nothing too difficult so it escaped the camera.

Risotto is something that everyone loves so we opted for a healthy version made with barley. We had criminis in the refrigerator that I wanted to use so that is where this began. I decided to take it in a Spanish direction on a whim, but this turned out quite tasty. Even my parents asked for leftovers. So I would say this is omni approved and I added no oil to this dish. Here is what I did.

Spanish Flavored Barley Risotto with Mushroom
Serves 8


1 yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics (onion and garlic)
1 pound barley (dry)
Water necessary to soften barley (approx 8 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
14 ounces diced tomatoes
2 cups Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced


Water sauté the onion and garlic until soft and the water has been evaporated. Add the barley and cook it, stirring very often, until the barley begins to toast lightly (you will smell this before you see it, takes a minute or two at most). Begin by adding enough water to cover the barley by a ¼ inch. Stir it for a minute and reduce the heat and cook for five minutes during which time much of the water will be absorbed. Add more water to cover the barley by a ¼ inch, stir and cook for five minutes. Continue this for about 25 minutes. Then add the salt, thyme smoked paprika, tomatoes and mushrooms and check the barley for tenderness. You will probably need to cook the barley a total of 45 minutes but it doesn’t hurt to check it early. When the barley is almost finish reduce the heat to as low as it will go and cover the pan. It will absorb most of the liquid. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley just before serving. Taste for seasoning before serving so you can add salt and pepper as necessary.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 225.28
Calories From Fat (3%) - 7.21

Total Fat - 0.86g
Saturated Fat - 0.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 252.93mg
Potassium - 414.5mg
Total Carbohydrates - 49.69g
Fiber - 10.17g
Sugar - 2.98g
Protein - 6.89g


I have always been a huge fan of risotto. In the past I made my risotto from carnaroli rice. Arborio was always too soft for my taste. I guess you could say I was particular about my risotto. Changing over to barley was a big deal at our house (for me). I felt as though I was betraying some sacred Italian trust. But just as I gave up olive oil I have also given up white rice, even when it is carnaroli. This texture of barley made in the risotto style is similar to that made from rice. It isn’t the same, but it is close enough for us. If you like smoked paprika and lemon you will enjoy this dish. Those are the first two things I can taste in this dish. It is very filling and makes a nice entrée course that doesn’t require fat for flavor.

Unrelated note:

The day has gotten away from me and I still need to exercise. So I need to get that done soon so it doesn’t keep me up tonight. Tomorrow is another busy day with appointments most of the afternoon. After that I am going to run a couple of errands. The posts tomorrow may be sparse, or late.

I hope you all had a great weekend and I will chat with you again soon.


  1. Looks delish (as always). Hope you're enjoying your weekend. I'm sure you are!!

  2. Heather,

    Thanks we liked it! :-)

    We had a fabulous weekend, but we normally do. I hope you had a great weekend too. Sorry you weather isn't as nice as ours has been.

    talk to you soon,

  3. This looks delish, Alicia, I starred it to come back to it, for sure! I've never made risotto, so I'm excited to try!


  4. LJ,

    Risotto is easy to make it just requires stirring and waiting. The barley version takes twice as long as the white rice variety.

    I hope you enjoy this as much as we did,

  5. I am so glad you posted this, I was waiting for it when you mentioned to me a while back that you make a barley risotto, so thanks for posting this! It looks really good, and I also love lemon and smoked paprika.
    I also don't sleep well if I don't get my exercise in, or do it too late in the day. I am a morning person though, so I usually tend to get it in first thing.

  6. Janet,

    So glad you were happy to see this. I only use barley to make risotto now. It isn't the same as using white arborio or carnaroli but it is similar and still tastes great, since it is much healthier it is my choice.

    talk to you soon,


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