I'm really not one for screwing around with recipes that have worked for hundreds of years. You know, mucking things up by substituting supposedly "healthier" or more "in vogue" ingredients. And believe me, risotto needs no help. It's perfect the way it is.
Initially the idea of replacing rice with barley seemed a little too health-conscious for me. But according to the New York Times, the Italians make a similar dish called orzotto, so I decided to try this—and I'm really glad I did.
Though this didn't have the pleasing natural creaminess of risotto, it has a deeper flavor, and it's still warming and tender. Some of that comes from the cauliflower, one of my favorite vegetables, which adds a delicious nutty note. Sure, I found the recipe in the "Fitness and Nutrition" section of the New York Times, but when it's this good, labels don't really matter, right?
- 7 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups barley
- 1 cauliflower, stems removed and the florets broken up into small pieces
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Pour the stock into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic, cauliflower, and barley. Cook until the barley starts to crackle, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the wine, and cook until it has all evaporated. Then add enough of the stock to just cover the barley. Stir often, and cook until most of the stock has been absorbed. Ladle in more stock to cover. Continue stirring and adding stock as needed, until the barley is tender, but still has a little bite to it. Then add one more ladle of stock, dump in the parsley and Parmesan, turn off the heat and set aside for a minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.