Spring Barley Risotto

A healthier alternative to the more traditional arborio risotto rice, barley adds iron and fiber to this dish.
Body+Soul, 2009
  • Prep Time 40 minutes
  • Total Time 40 minutes
  • Yield Serves 4
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, or water
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 14 1/2 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut on bias into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves, plus small leaves for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add barley and leeks; cook until beginning to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water; bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; simmer until liquid absorbs, about 10 minutes.

  2. Add broth and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas until heated through. Add Parmesan and mint; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with mint leaves.

Recipe Reviews

Reviews (3)

  • Peter Pumpkin 18 Apr, 2011

    I have made this with farro which has the "nuttiness" and firmness of barley and wheat berries. It is a type of spelt and is acceptable for those who have a wheat intolerance. It is also higher in protein and fiber than rice. In place of white wine, like to add a splash of dry vermouth for a nice herbal note and sometimes add cremini or shiitaki mushrooms.

  • trinigb53 18 Mar, 2011

    Can you post the amount of calories in this dish. Thank you

  • NatLizAn 4 Apr, 2010

    Yum! I only had one leek, no wine, and no fresh mint but I used extra veg broth and dried mint and it turned out very flavorful! I had two helpings! The barley has a nice hardiness that you don't get with rice. Goes in the recipe collection under favorites!