Risotto-Style Barley with Citrus and Arugula

One way to stay inspired and discover “new favorites” is by experimenting with new grains and combinations of fruits and vegetables.  This recipe wonderfully combines barley, orange and lemon to create a unique, light, yet satisfying dinner!  If you are looking to add a little protein to the meal, it is delicious served alongside some baked tilapia seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and a squeeze of lemon juice.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 or 2 shallots, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

2 cups lightly pearled barley

1 cup good—quality dry white wine

6 cups chicken broth (if you prefer a vegetarian version you can use water or vegetable broth)

1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

2 big handfuls arugula (rocket), coarsely chopped

Handful of chopped toasted walnuts, for garnish

To Make

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion, shallots, garlic, and salt and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

2.     Add the barley to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed the liquid a bit. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, active simmer.

3.     In increments, add about 6 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water), 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between additions; this should take around 40 minutes altogether. Stir regularly, because you don’t want the grains on the bottom of the pan to scorch. You will know when the barley is cooked because it won’t offer up much resistance when chewing (it will, however, be chewier than Arborio rice). I think this risotto is better on the brothy side, so don’t worry if there is a bit of unabsorbed liquid in the pot.

4.     Meanwhile, grate the zest of the orange, then peel and segment the orange. Cut the segments in half, reserving any juices that leak out. When the barley is tender, stir in the orange zest, segments and juice, lemon zest, Parmesan, and crème fraiche. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be, then stir in the arugula. Garnish with the toasted walnuts before serving.


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