This recipe comes from our regular contributor Annette Tomei. In addition to offering us some great wine recommendations with her Wine of the Week column, Annette is a noted private chef and cooking instructor. Although she creates recipes for clients all the time, this barley risotto is one she made for herself. It’s her way of celebrating her Italian roots with a risotto but tailoring it to enjoy on a healthy diet.
In addition to giving the dish an extra boost of nutrition, swapping out arborio for barley also gives the risotto a unique texture and greater depth of flavor. Barley’s slightly nutty notes give balance to the sweetness of the apple.
An aphrodisiac flare
There’s a heartiness to this barley risotto that truly speaks of fall and winter. You can make this dish with several variations of ingredients. But for us, Annette chose to feature apple, the fruit of temptation and one of the greatest aphrodisiacs for women. (A recent study found that women who eat an apple a day have more satisfying sex than non apple eaters. Learn more about the history and science behind the apple’s aphrodisiac reputation.)
Annette says that to change things up, she sometimes adds juicy pear instead of the diced apple–which also has a great aphrodisiac reputation. With either version, she says the key is to be generous with the freshly grated Parmesan. (It sounds like a great idea to us. After all, cheese is also an aphrodisiac.) If you want to make the dish vegetarian, feel free to substitute vegetable stock in place of the the chicken stock. You really can’t go wrong with this one!
This variation on risotto uses the chewy texture and nutty flavor of barley, to produce a flavorful one-pot dish.
- 2 cup diced peeled apples
- 2 Tbsp butter
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
- 2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 small onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- rounded 2/3 c pearl barley rinsed, drained
- 1 1/2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Brown the apples in butter in a large sauté pan. Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Set aside.
- Bring broth to simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in large sauce pan. Add onion and garlic, sauté until tender.
- Add barley, stir until coated with butter, about 1 minute.
Add broth a little at a time (about 1/4 cup is good); simmer, stirring often, until broth is absorbed.
- Add remaining broth in the same manner, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until barley is tender, but still firm to bite, about 40 to 50 minutes.
- Add apples and Parmesan cheese, then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
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