Monday, September 27, 2010

Red Wine Barley Risotto and No Sugar Apple Butter

After breakfast Dan decided to head to his home office on the third floor and try to catch up on some paperwork. Before he headed upstairs we talked more about lunch. I liked his idea to use barley but I really wasn’t in the mood for barley soup. I suggested barley in the risotto style and he thought that sounded good. I used to make a red wine risotto so I decided to make that with barley for lunch. Since we also have fresh criminis and shitakes I thought they would be good on top of the barley. With the cooler temperatures I also though red cabbage would be good plus it gets another blue/purple veggies serving into us. Here is what I made today:

Red Wine Barley in the Risotto Style Topped with Mushrooms and Red Cabbage
Serves 4

Barley Ingredients:

½ red onion, finely minced
½ cup water to sauté the onion
1 ½ cups hulled barley
750ml bottle good red wine (I used an Amarone a northern Italian raisinated wine)
water necessary to fully cook barley (will be added slowly see instructions)
½ tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
black pepper to taste

Topping Ingredients:

½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup of water to sauté onions
½ pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound fresh shitake caps, thinly sliced (save stems in the freezer for mushroom stock)
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
½ tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup walnuts + ½ cup water processed in a blender until completely smooth
½ tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in ½ tablespoon of water

Garnish ingredients:

1 tablespoons chives, finely minced
2 tablespoons walnuts, roughly chopped


Sauté the onion in water until it is starting to get tender, about 3 minutes, add the barley and ¼ of the bottle of red wine. Stir to coat all the barley with the wine and cook over medium heat until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the rosemary and more wine and continue to cook. You will need to add all the wine plus more water to cook the barley until it is tender. This will take about 45 minutes. Before serving taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

For the topping water sauté the onions for 3 minutes then add the mushrooms, cabbage, rosemary and pureed walnuts. When the cabbage is lightly wilted add the arrowroot slurry. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your taste.

To serve top the barley with the mushroom topping and finish with chopped walnuts and chives. I considered topping this dish with a lightly dressed herb salad but changed to chives since fresh herbs are something that my mother tends to pick out of food. Before you ask I have no idea why she does that. Just another thing I need to be mindful of when cooking for her.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 618.83 **
Calories From Fat (18%) - 111.4

Total Fat - 13.3g
Saturated Fat - 1.38g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 40.73mg
Potassium - 1178.97mg
Total Carbohydrates - 81.27g **
Fiber - 18.01g
Sugar - 4.38g
Protein - 14.61g

** The total calories in this dish was overstated by the alcohol which was burned off during cooking. Since there is controversy on how much remains I left all the alcohol in the numbers above knowing it was too high.


Dan and I both really enjoyed this. The dish has a complex flavor that is dependent on the wine. This dish is very easy to make but you must use a wine you would drink by the glass. Cooking concentrates the flavor of the wine so only use one you love. We are big fans of red Italian wine which is why I used Amarone. Always taste the wine before you cook with it. If the wine has faults by the glass those will be more pronounced once you cook it and concentrate the flavor. From experience I can tell you that using bad wine will ruin a dish.

To accompany the risotto we also had a quick salad of romaine, thinly shaved carrot, cucumber and radish and diced tomato. I dressed this with the Dijon, red wine vinegar and stevia I mentioned yesterday. Sorry, I still didn’t measure anything for the dressing again today.


Dinner tonight was a big salad very similar to the one we had with lunch, only twice the size. Dan also had a bowl of leftover mushroom dahl from last night since he needed the calories. Eating more like me yesterday he dropped two pounds when he got on the scale this morning. *shakes head* Wouldn’t it be nice to lose weight as quickly as men seem to be able to, not that I will ever know. ;-)

About 45 minutes after the salad and dahl Dan wanted to have a big bowl of strawberry banana soft serve. As you can tell he loves that stuff. I had about ¼ cup of it which I did not photograph.


Since it is a weekday we are back to the grind first thing this morning. It is tough to get moving when it is dark and raining when you wake up. Like usual I was making fresh veggie and fruit juice for Dan to take to work with his lunch.

Due to the cold rainy weather this morning we decided a hot bowl of oatmeal was particularly appealing. The oatmeal this morning was topped with my homemade no sugar apple butter. This is a great use for the apple butter I think.

Making apple butter is more of a method than a recipe. I took 8 apples which I cored (but did not peel) and cut into chunks. I put the chunks in the Vitamix with the juice of one lemon (which is optional you could use water or white wine). Process everything until it is completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a low flat pan and cook over low heat, stirring often to make certain it doesn’t burn. Add any seasonings you like to taste. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and vanilla. Mine cooked for about 45 minutes in an enameled cast iron pan until it was thick and brown. In the past I would have added sugar or agave but we are so accustomed to food with sweetener now that the concentrated fruit was sweet enough.

Signing out for now:

I need to get moving this morning and stop lounging around. Monday is normally busy at my house catching up from all my relaxing on the weekend. However the cool weather and rain just makes me want to curl up on the sofa with a fuzzy throw and a book. Sort of like Nicco just add a book. He is on top of a micro fleece throw I picked up last week at Costco. They are very soft and machine washable if anyone is looking for a fuzzy throw, they are feline approved as you can tell.

Talk to you all again soon.


  1. The barley sounds so good - perfect fall comfort food. I'm freezing right now so it's really sounding appealing ;-)

  2. Mushrooms and barley go so well together, and you have a really interesting dish here.

    The apple butter sounds good, too. I've never made any but this seems easy enough to try when we get fresh fall apples. I agree, the concentrated flavor will taste better than added sugar. I still use some sugar, but as I've consciously begun to reduce the amount I use I find myself enjoying the flavors of food much more. I think of so many fruit pies I've had where it's difficult to discern exactly what fruit they're made of!

  3. That is interesting about how you made the apple butter--I never would have thought to do it like that! When I do it, I essentially make apple sauce first by cooking down the apples and then just keep cooking it til it gets thick and dark and becomes apple butter. I leave the peels/skins on the apples too--glad to know I am not the only one :-) I will have to try it your way next time--it sounds much faster.


  4. Heather,

    Thanks, Dan and I really liked it. It was cold here yesterday too which is why I reverting to cooking comfort food. I think I am starting to miss the hot weather, LOL.


  5. Jessica,

    I love mushrooms and barley together but just wasn't in the mood for soup yesterday. I was pleased with how this turned out.

    Great point about sugar covering up the taste of the fruit. I found that sugar, salt and oil did the same thing for me in regard to food flavor. Though I had no idea until I started to cut back and eventually eliminated them.

    hope you are having a good Monday,

  6. Courtney,

    I have made my apple butter starting with chunks too but this is faster and I was feeling lazy one day and it worked. Of course I leave the skin on for the vitamins and fiber. I also hear the peel contains the majority of the pectin so it helps the butter to thicken. Since I have not made it without the peel I don't know if that is true. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  7. I love apple butter! I need to try my hand at making some.
    As usualy all of your meals look delicious!

  8. How creative-barley risotto! I love it. Also, want to try your simple salad dressing. Thanks for sharing, Ali! Have a great afternoon,

  9. Michelle,

    Apple butter is really easy to make it just takes a little time and stirring.

    Thanks for the compliment. Don't forget that I have been making vegan food for a while. It gets much easier the longer you do it.


  10. Aimee,

    I would love to take the credit for barley in the risotto style but that idea is not original. I had it first when my chef friend was cooking. You make it exactly like rice risotto it just takes twice as long.

    The salad dressing tastes much better than the effort it takes. I don't know why it took me so long to make it. *shakes head*


  11. vanilla in apple butter sounds wonderful. if i ever try this i will use the spices that you did. i was thinking of doing it in a crock pot? then blending it? would i still need to if it was going all day? another recipe that i read used apple juice (or cranberry) but i wanted to stay away from that, good idea about the lemon juice. thanks for posting this


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