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.
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.
Follow these basic steps to make asparagus barley risotto:
- Strain the rice with liquids, collecting them in a bowl to use for cooking.
- Toast the rice grains and add some of the starchy liquid, to cook over low heat.
- Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.
- Prepare your topping in a separate skillet by sautéing sliced asparagus with peas.
- 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. 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.
How to Cook Asparagus for Risotto
Asparagus makes a great topping for risotto as it add a nice textural and color contrast. The easiest way to cook this asparagus is to slice it into 1-inch pieces and sauté in olive oil over medium heat, until bright green and slightly softened (while adding salt to season). This process will take 5-8 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus stalks are (thinner stalks are better here). Off heat, I like to add some lemon juice and zest for brightness.
How to Roast Asparagus in the Oven
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 salad and 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 Instagram if you give it a try!Print