Monday 24 June 2013

Avocado Barley Risotto

This is recipe #2 for my health-minded friend who wants to eat avocados but doesn't like the texture.  Normally I would use arborio rice for this type of risotto but I wanted to give it an extra health kick with the barley.  I love it!  The technique for making risotto makes a creamy dish anyway, and the avocado just adds to the creaminess.

I served it with some sugar snap peas from my garden (I could only scrounge a handful of minis) and shrimp.  I think it would work equally well as a side with lamb or prime rib.


Olive oil
1/2 cup of minced red onion (I whizzed it in the food processor)
2/3 cup pearl barley
2 limes
1/4 cup white wine
3-4 cups veggie or chicken stock, warmed
2 avocado
3 garlic cloves, minced
Parmesan cheese

This follows the regular risotto technique of adding the liquid slowly to absorb.  It's more important when using arborio rice as the slow cooking allows the rice to release its starches and get good and creamy.   But even for barley, which is not starchy (or not as starchy as rice anyway), this technique seems to make the dish creamier compared to boiling the barley and tossing it all together.

Keep the stock on low heat.

In a large pan, add about 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, and saute the minced onion.  After 5-8 minutes when it has softened, add the barley and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime.  Add the wine.  Stir again, and allow the wine to be absorbed (some will also just evaporate).  Add a pinch of salt.

Add a 1/2 cup of stock at a time, allowing the barley to absorb the liquid before adding more (don't let it fully dry out, just mostly absorbed).  Continue to add about 2 1/2 cups at which point it should be at least "al dente".

In the meantime, mash the avocado with the garlic and juice from the remaining 1 1/2 limes and a pinch of salt.

When the barley is "al dente", stir in the mashed avocado mixture.  Give a taste and adjust seasoning as needed - you'll likely need more salt than expected, but this tastes great with lots of pepper as well.  Continue to add liquid in smaller increments until it reaches a creamy texture.

Add some grated parmesan at this point based on your taste, or add cheese when serving.  Garnish with sliced green onions and finely diced tomatoes.  Serves 2 as a main or 4-6 as a side dish.

The shrimp and snap peas were sauteed with butter, garlic and a pinch of salt.

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