Sunday, August 2, 2009

Barley Risotto with Fennel and Olives

The method for this risotto worried me slightly, since normally liquid is added to a risotto a little at a time, and absorbed batch by batch before adding the next bit of liquid. In this recipe, liquid is only added in two stages - you do still need to stir almost constantly though! - and for a while I was worried I would have barley soup instead of barley risotto. But rest assured that you will eventually see all of that liquid absorbed.

To start, melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cups chopped leek, 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel and 1/2 cup red bell pepper; saute 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, if you prefer), and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour in two cups vegetable broth and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly; the liquid should be almost absorbed, but even if it's not at this point, go ahead to the next step...

...which is to stir in another 3/4 cups chopped leek, another 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel, 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth, and 1/2 cup dry white wine (opt for an organic variety! I used a chardonnay); cook for 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup chopped pitted olives at the end. The original recipe suggested oil-cured olives, but noted that any variety would do. I actually used standard canned black olives which tasted great. You could also garnish with fennel fronds for a pretty presentation, if you like.

3/4 cups is 260 calories. Make it a hearty main dish by doubling the portions.

leek $1.55
fennel $1.31
red bell pepper $1.20
pearl barley $3.19
vegetable broth $3.79
dry white wine $5.99
vegan cheese $3.39
parsley $1.69
olives $1.39

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance