Happy Sunday everyone!!! Hope that you were able to stay nice and cozy over the weekend with all this winter-like weather we’ve been having. Seems like Mother Nature’s not quite ready yet to shower us with spring weather and wants to hold on to winter for just a little bit longer – as much as I hate the cold, I don’t mind it too much because it means that I can still cozy up with some feel-good recipes before it’s all about salads!
Last week I was craving something that was hearty, earthy and would hopefully keep my mind off of the cool weather and rain. Rummaging through my latest order from Mama Earth Organics, I decided to whip up some Barley Risotto using the stunning mushrooms, kale and garlic that I received.
I love this recipe because it hits all the bells and whistles of a traditional Risotto without all the fuss of having to babysit it.
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish that is cooked in a broth and stirred consistently until it is creamy with lots of butter, white wine and cheese.
This risotto is made with Pearl Barley which adds a nutty note to the dish which pairs perfectly with the depth of flavor which is built when sautéing the exotic, earthy mushrooms. It’s literally a one pot meal with a little prep in the beginning but then you can walk away and it will be ready within 40 minutes.
I start off by heating up some olive oil and sauté a 1 finely chopped onion with a few cloves of fresh garlic chopped and mushrooms. Today I used 454 grams of fresh shitake and 4-5 cremini along with 1/4 cup of dried wild mushrooms that I reconstituted in 6 cups of chicken stock.
I hold off any seasoning until the mushrooms have browned and developed their flavour. The reason you want to do this is because salt draws the liquid out of them and will slow down the browning process and also not give you that intense earthy flavour that mushrooms are known for.
Once browned, I add 2 cups of pearl barley with a knob of butter and let everything toast up and get nutty for a few minutes before adding my rehydrated mushrooms.
I top everything up with my liquid, place the cover on it and walk away. About 40 minutes later you are left with rich, velvety goodness. I turn off the heat and add in my fresh chopped kale (4-5 leaves) right before serving it. The residual heat from the risotto will wilt the kale just enough that it becomes slightly tender but still keeping all the nutritional goodness intact.
I like serving this up with some freshly shaved parmigiano and just let it infuse the risotto with it’s amazing flavour. In the words of wise Massimo Bottura:
“Parmigiano is the perfect umami – the perfect balance between – sweet, savoury, acidic and bitterness. You don’t feel anything but everything is there.”
And there you have it. A stunning, feel-good recipe that will warm you up in no time. So cozy up, enjoy the weather and let the flavours of this bowl take you on a journey back to the roots of northern Italy.