Barley Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

I’ve had a bag of barley sitting in the pantry for ages–discount grocery!–and this week I was just itching to do something with it.  Granted, I’ve never actually had barley.  It sounds so hearty and nourishing, though:  a bowl of warm chewy something to give comfort on these cold Mississippi nights.  The finished dish exceeded expectations, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to call it “the oatmeal of dinner.”  (Good oatmeal, of course–steel-cut oats, stovetop, the works.)

I didn’t follow a recipe, per se, but I took this as a guideline.  I wanted to make this recipe, but I didn’t soak any beans last night and I’m trying to wean myself off the canned stuff.  Basic risotto procedure…boring.  I used 2:1 ratio of water to broth because I find full-broth risottos a little overpowering, and I simmered some dried herbs in the liquid.  The process did take much longer than expected, close to an hour; I’ll blame the weird discount barley, because I can.  I grated some pecorino in at the end, and the flavors and textures played very nicely together.

I needed to use up some particular produce, so I roasted broccoli and carrots and folded them into the finished barley.  I have to admit, the broccoli wasn’t as tasty as I’d hoped.  I think I’m just not a fan of roasted broccoli.  I should have steamed it on the side and roasted the sweet potato I found languishing in my roots-and-tubers bowl.  I have another bag of barley in the stash, so I’ll just say, “next time…”

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