This Vegan Asparagus Barley Risotto is a comforting dinner recipe that’s topped with bright and fresh spring produce! Made with whole grain pearl barley, it’s a unique take on a traditional dish and easily customized.Â
What is pearl barley risotto and how do you make it?
Pearl barley risotto is a starchy, creamy, and comforting dinner where barley grains take the place of more traditional carnaroli or arborio rice. White Arborio is a common choice for risotto dishes as is short-grain. When cooking traditional risotto this way, liquid must be added in very small portions to build the proper creamy texture for the final dish. When using barley, we can skip this step. I actually prefer the slight chew of barley, and it has some wonderful health benefits.
After 30 minutes of cook time for the risotto, remove the lid and add in the rest of your reserved liquid, some salt, and almond milk. Continue cooking with the lid off for 5 minutes or so, until a creamy consistency is reached.Â Add mashed white beans and vegan parmesan.
To serve, ladle barley risotto onto hot plates and top with asparagus mixture and fresh herbs.
Can you freeze pearl barley risotto? How do you reheat it?
Yes, this dish can be frozen and made ahead! It is important to note that when cooling it will reabsorb some of its liquid and this will need to be added back in before serving.
To reheat from frozen, let risotto thaw and add up to 1 cup of unsweetened plain almond milk. Stir to combine and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
How to Add Protein to Vegan Risotto
Adding mashed white beans will greatly increase the amount of protein and “staying power” of this recipe. White kidney beans (Cannellini) have a very creamy texture that translates well to a dish like risotto. You can either cook your own beans or use canned; this recipe requires one full can or 1 and 1/2 cups cooked beans. I would image you could easily substitute another kind of creamy white bean, like Butter beans, Gigante, Navy, or Great Northern.
To roast asparagus, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt and roast in an even layer on a baking sheet for 10 minutes in a 400 degree F oven.
What goes well with asparagus barley risotto?
I consider this asparagus barley risotto a meal, given the combination or complex carbs, protein, and fat. It would pair well with a kale saladand a glass of white wine. It would also work well as a main course for a holiday dinner.
I hope you enjoy this vegan risotto recipe! Please let me know in the comments or on Instagramif you give it a try!
This Vegan Asparagus Barley Risotto is a comforting dinner recipe that’s topped with bright and fresh spring produce! Made with whole grain pearl barley, it’s a unique take on a traditional dish and easily customized.
1.5 cups pearl barley (or barley-grain mix, as featured in these photos)
4 cups broth or water
1 cup white wine (or more water/broth)
5 TBS olive oil or butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, diced
1 bunch asparagus, washed and chopped into one inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 TBS lemon juice and 1 TBS lemon zest (optional)
Sea salt (used throughout)*
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1.5 cups (1 can) white kidney beans
1/4 cup vegan parmesan
Micro greens, snap peas, and fresh parsley to garnish
Set a fine mesh strainer on top of a large bowl. Add barley to strainer and rise with 4 cups water/broth and 1 cup wine (or more water). Press to drain, capturing all liquids in the large bowl. This helps to preserve all starches in the barley, as we will use this liquid for cooking. Set bowl of liquid aside.
Cover your pot with a lid and let barley cook for 25-30 minutes. Exact cook times may vary depending on the pot you use, so I recommend checking a grain of barley around the 25 minute mark. It should have a subtle chew but not be crunchy. If your liquid is not absorbed, turn the heat up slightly as needed.
When nearly all of your liquid is absorbed in the risotto (mine took 30 minutes), remove the lid and add in the rest of your reserved liquid, 1 tsp salt, and almond milk. Continue cooking with the lid off for 5 minutes or so, until a creamy consistency is reached.Â While this is cooking, pour white beans onto a plate and mash with a fork. Turn off heat on stove and add white beans to risotto, along with vegan parmesan. Stir to combine and taste, if it seems flat add a few more pinches of salt.
To serve, ladle barley risotto onto hot plates (warmed in the microwave). Top with asparagus mixture, fresh parsley, micro greens, and sliced snap peas if desired. Risotto will keep in the fridge for up to five days, but will dry out while chilling. If you plan to make this ahead and reheat, add a few TBS of almond milk to add replace lost moisture.
I use Morton Coarse Sea Salt because I have easy access to it. If you are using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, I recommend using more than the amounts listed here. If you are using Morton Kosher salt, I recommend using slightly less to start out with, as the shape of these salt grains can taste “saltier” on your palate.
Hi, I'm Emily! Garlic Head is a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets. My recipes focus on entertaining-style cuisine, perfect for celebrating all of life's little moments! Meet me here.