Recipe of the week
A low maintenance risotto
“Risotto isn’t as high maintenance as its reputation,” said Mark Bittman in Dinner for Everyone (Clarkson Potter). Because hearty whole-grain barley works best in this brilliant-red risotto, it might require an hour of kitchen time. But you don’t have to babysit the pot, and the rewards are striking.
Barley risotto with beets and greens
1½ cups whole-grain (“hulled”) barley
½ cup chopped walnuts
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock or water
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
12 oz beets, peeled and grated
2 cups arugula or chopped beet greens
• In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast barley, shaking pan often, until golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toast walnuts the same way. Warm stock or water in a saucepan.
• Add olive oil to skillet; heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring often, until glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add wine. Cook, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan, until liquid bubbles away.
• Ladle in warm stock, a cup at a time, letting the stock cook away each time before you add more and stir. Mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Adjust heat so mixture bubbles, and stir frequently.
• After 20 minutes, add beets. Continue cooking, tasting barley regularly—you want tender but with a touch of crunch; it could take 40 minutes. When barley is ready, add greens a handful at a time, stirring until each addition is wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with toasted walnuts. Serves 4.