Barley and Beet Risotto

I am continuing with my vegan experiment. It's interesting how I used to just not even take a second look at vegan recipes before. If a vegetable dish didn't include some cheese, I wouldn't even notice it. I am very glad that I decided to be a vegan for a few weeks, I found so many wonderful dishes that will be part of my regular repertoire from now on.

This is my first attempt at risotto and it's not even a real risotto. Hmm... if risotto is made from barley, wouldn't it be called barlotto? (I know, I know, the real name for "barlotto" is actually orzotto) Anyway, it's a tasty and healthy dish with brilliant colour that will lift your mood.


recipe adapted from Food and Drink magazine (winter 2009)

  • Pot barley or pearl barley - 1 cup
  • Vegetable stock - 3 cups
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Olive oil - 1 tablespoon
  • Onion, chopped - 1
  • Garlic, minced - 2 cloves
  • Salt, pepper - 1/4 teaspoon each
  • Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
  • Beets, peeled and diced - 2 cups (about 1 large or 2 medium)
  • Lemon juice - 2 tablespoons
  • Cilantro, finely chopped - 2 tablespoons

- Rinse barley in a sieve under running water, stirring to make sure it is well rinsed, until water runs clear. Drain well and set aside.
- Heat stock and 1 cup of water in a saucepan or in microwave until steaming. Cover and keep hot.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion and saute for about 3 minutes or until starting to soften.
- Add garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add barley and stir to coat well.
- De-glaze the pan with wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated.
- Stir in 2 cups of the stock mixture and the beets. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until beets are almost tender. Add a little more of the stock if necessary to keep mixture moist.
- Uncover and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often and adding stock, a ladleful at a time as the previous addition is absorbed, or until barley is tender with a slight bite and beets are tender. You may need to add a little more hot water if the mixture gets too thick before the barley is tender.
- Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.


- Original version called for goats cheese sprinkled on top of cooked risotto. Since I tried to make it a vegan version, I sprinkled some chopped pecans on top. Their sweetness and earthiness matched the "risotto" pretty well.

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Posted on March 6, 2009 and filed under Recipe.