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Creamy vanilla barley risotto

bowl of barley with fruit

With about four times the fibre of oats, barley makes a great breakfast cereal, snack or dessert, especially when simmered into this sweet risotto. If you can find a vanilla bean, use it here – split it lengthwise with the tip of a knife, then scrape the teeny black seeds into the risotto as it cooks.


1 cup (250 ml) pearl or pot barley
2–3 cups (500–750 ml) 2% milk, or half milk and half cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar or honey (or to taste)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract or a vanilla bean


1. In a medium pot, bring 3–4 cups of water to a boil. Add the barley and cook for about 20 minutes. (It won’t be completely cooked through.) Drain and return the barley to the pot. Add 2 cups of the milk and the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the barley has absorbed the milk and is very tender. Add more milk and continue to cook, stirring often, until it absorbs that as well.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool and refrigerate before serving.
Serves 8.

Per serving: 

162 calories, 2 g fat (1.2 g saturated fat, 0.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 7 mg cholesterol, 5.5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 3.9 g fibre.

Originally published in ParentsCanada, April 2012

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