I love risotto! It's such a comfort food and always delicious. I also enjoy making it. Standing over the stove constantly stirring, watching the grains absorb the broth and puff up makes for very relaxing dinner preparation. Especially with this dish, it stands on it's own for dinner; there's no rushing around the kitchen trying to do 20 things at once to ensure that everything is done at the same time.
A lot of my ideas come from conversations with others around me. One day at work last week I was talking with a co-worker and she mentioned she had some barley that she wanted to make into a risotto but wondered if it was possible. I told her it was and it was delicious and she should try it! I mentioned to her that I had been wanting to make a primavera risotto and she said that she had made and asparagus risotto with some lemon and really enjoyed it. I decided to go ahead and make my primavera risotto with barley and lemon. I was a bit worried that the hearty barley would give the dish too much of a winter feel, but in the end, the lemon juice really brightened it up to make a perfect summer dish!
2 Tbs butter
1 cup barley, rinsed
1 cup white wine
2 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz mushrooms, washed and cubed
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
2 cups shredded turkey or chicken
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbs lemon zest
4 Tbs fresh parsley
2 Tbs Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Since risotto takes a bit to make I like to pour a glass of wine, get a few crackers and some nice cheese out. Once you've poured yourself a glass and consumed a bit of Bree, goat, Gouda, or whatever your choice, turn on some fun music, and gather the rest of your ingredients.
Whoops, I forgot the peas! Oh well, at least I remembered the wine and cheese. :)
In a saucepan bring your broth and 2/3's of the asparagus to simmer. Reserve the remaining asparagus for the risotto. I like to use the stems and save the tops for the end because I think that makes for a nice presentation.
Let your broth simmer for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is soft. With an immersion blender, puree the asparagus into the broth. Alternatively you can transfer asparagus and broth to a blender.
Keep this mixture on low heat.
Heat 2 butter in a skillet on medium heat and saute your onions until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile in a separate skillet, saute mushrooms and asparagus until soft. Depending on how thick your asparagus is, you may have to start your asparagus before your mushrooms. Remove from heat when soft.
Add the barley to the onions and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. 4-5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook about 3 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the white wine and cook, stirring constantly until the wine is absorbed. Now is a good time to grab your wine and settle in. You will be here for about 40-45 minutes.
When most of the liquid has been absorbed...(about 5 minutes)
Add the asparagus-broth mixture about a cup at a time.
Stir constantly until most of the broth has been absorbed...
...then add another cup.
When the last of the broth has almost been absorbed, add the peas...
...and then the rest of the veggies.
Stir to combine everything and add the parsley, lemon juice and zest, and Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with more parsley and Parmesan.