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Easy Barley Risotto

Barley risotto I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for barley around here. I love that it’s local, high in fibre, dense and nutty and chewy, and great for simmering with dry lentils for a hefty salad. I love that you can buy it in flour form to make pancakes and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake.

The new Go Barley cookbook aims to teach us all how to cook with this ancient grain. Proven to lower cholesterol and promote digestive health, barley not only helps you feel fuller longer, but it also is a source of many essential vitamins and minerals.

Barley queen and co-author Linda Whitworth has been on tour all summer, teaching people about the nutritional benefits of barley, and what to do with it at home. They made a fun video documenting a day in her life as she appeared on the Calgary Stampede cooking stage in July.

Barley Barley risotto 3

This barley risotto is far more nutrient-dense (and fibre-rich) than that made with the traditional short-grain rice, and as a happy bonus, it requires only one bout of vigorous stirring, halfway through the cooking time. No need to stand by the stove, afraid to stray from the pot. Shrimp and peas and a good squeeze of lemon make a classic risotto – and a quick and easy dinner as the weather cools down.

Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

Excerpted (and slightly adapted) from Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain by Pat Inglis and Linda Whitworth

1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

1 cup (250 mL) pot or pearl barley

4 cups (1 L) low sodium chicken stock

12 oz (350 g) peeled and deveined raw shrimp

1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen peas

2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley or sprigs of fresh mint

Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat; add the onion, garlic, lemon zest, and pepper, and saute until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in barley and stock and bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat; cover pan and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring vigorously halfway through for 15 seconds. Stir in shrimp and peas; cover pan and simmer until shrimp are pink and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley or mint and serve. Serves 4.

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