Barley “Risotto” with Apples and Parmesan

Annette Tomei ApplesBarley risotto with apples and Parmesan

This is an adaptation of a recipe I wrote for Eat Something Sexy a couple years ago. It works well with a variety of long-cooking grains (I especially like it with farro), and it also works well substituting pears for the apples and Pecorino for the finishing cheese.

Makes 4-6 servings

2 cups diced apples

2 Tablespoons butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (chopped if desired)

2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water, if vegetarian)

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed, drained

2 cups freshly fine grated Parmesan cheese

Arugula, clean and dry

For Garnish:

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Spread 1 cup of finely grated Parmesan on a Silpat baking sheet (on a cookie sheet) – spread evenly, approximately 1/4 inch deep.
  3. Bake cheese for 5-6 minutes until melted, lightly browned but not too dark (it will continue to cook before it cools)
  4. Allow to cool thoroughly before breaking into shards.

For the Apples:

  1. Melt butter in a large sauté pan. Lightly season apples then sauté until they are golden brown and most liquid has cooked off. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Set aside.

For “Risotto”:

  1. Bring broth to simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
  2. Melt butter with oil in a steep-sided sauté pan. Add onion, sauté until very tender.
  3. Add barley; stir until coated; toast lightly (3-5 minutes).
  4. Add broth a little at a time; simmer, stirring often, until broth is absorbed. Repeat, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until barley is tender, but still firm to bite, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  5. Add apples and remaining Parmesan cheese, and then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with shards of crispy Parmesan (also nice served on a bed of arugula or spinach)

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