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Barley Risotto: How to Make a Creamy, Hearthy, Healthy Risotto

Updated on August 29, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

A different type of risotto

Risotto is an Italian dish--rice slowly cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Yes, it takes a bit of time (about 30 minutes), but is really quite easy.

I found barley on sale today at my local grocery store and so we're taking a slight detour from tradition. In fact, I'm not sure we can even accurately call this "risotto" because it's made with barley instead of rice. However, both rice and barley are grasses and the techniques used to cook them are very similar.

What are the Health Benefits of Barley?

Barley is truly a super-food. Not only does is taste great (nutty and chewy); it's also high in fiber. That fiber makes it an excellent choice for lowering blood cholesterol levels, protecting against against atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cast your vote for Barley risotto

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings


  • 6 slices bacon or turkey bacon
  • 3 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces slices mushrooms
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Place chopped bacon and 1 tsp. olive oil in sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Bring broth and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
  3. Place remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, slices mushrooms and minced onion in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms begin to give off their liquid and brown, and onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add barley and stir so that all grains are coated with olive oil.
  5. Add 1/2 cup wine to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is mostly evaporated.
  6. Turn heat to low. Add 1/2 cup broth to pan and cook until most of the broth is absorbed.
  7. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook until barley is cooked through; about 35 to 45 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and reserved cooked bacon.

© 2013 Linda Lum


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