Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25 Dinner - Barley Risotto with Leeks and Peas

There are few dishes I enjoy more than a steaming hot bowl of risotto.  I love the creamy texture, the warming quality, and the toothsome chew of the rice.  Risotto is not, however, the healthiest of meals.  It is generally made with refined arborio rice, butter, and lots of cheese! 

This version is made with fiber-rich barley instead of rice and nutritional yeast flakes instead of cheese.  The creaminess comes from a little milk added to the stock (which you can replace with more stock for an even healthier version) and the result is a velvety, flavorful concoction that is sure to please the palate.  Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk section of any Whole Foods.  It is often used in vegan dishes to lend a tangy, cheese-like flavor.  I always have some in my pantry to add flavor without the fat.  If you've never tried it before, give it a shot!  It looks strange, but it is a healthy, flavorful, and very inexpensive alternative to cheese.

Barley Risotto with Leeks and Peas
serves 4

2 T olive oil
1 large leek, halved, sliced and rinsed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup barley, rinsed
4 cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 package frozen peas
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add wine and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add barley and bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently. 

Cook until much of the liquid has evaporated, stirring almost constantly, then add stock, one cup at a time.  At each stage, add the cup of liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until much of the liquid is absorbed.  After all the stock has been added, add the milk in two stages in the same manner as the stock.  After adding the last cup of liquid, add the frozen peas.  Cook mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then add lemon zest and juice and turn off the heat.  Stir for a few more minutes off the heat, then stir in salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

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