This is one of my favorite new dishes, hands down.
I had no concerns this would be great (I mean, it has roasted tomatoes so…it has to be), but it really did knock my socks off.
I’ve mentioned before that I love barley. This probably seems like a weird thing to say, but it’s true. I just love its nutty flavor and chewy texture. I’ve made “risotto” from it before, and it’s a great thing. Combined with sweet summer corn, basil, and the aforementioned tomatoes, it’s hard to go wrong. Impossible, actually.
I decided to replace 1/2 cup of barley with a can of cannellini beans, to add a little more protein and texture to the dish (which worked out especially well since I realized after I started making this that I only had one cup of barley, anyway). I also reduced the fat a bit, to absolutely no ill effects.
This dish was fantastic. Tom liked it to much that he had more at dinner (which is kind of a bummer, because it meant fewer leftovers. Hmph.) and we both raved about it again the next day, after lunch. The barley and beans are filling, but the tomatoes, sweet corn, and basil keep this really light and refreshing. Risotto isn’t normally a dish associated with the summer, but this dish will make you rethink that.
Summer Barley Risotto
Adapted from Honest Cooking
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 cups of vegetable or beef broth
1 small onion, diced
1 cup pearled barley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Uncooked kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn
1.5 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
10 sweet basil leaves, sliced
Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the tomatoes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt, and spread them evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring 1-2 times, for about 25 minutes or until shriveled and golden.
Meanwhile, place the broth in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and keep it warm.
In a large skillet with deep sides, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the barley. Continue to cook, stirring to be sure all the barley is coated in the oil, for 3-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping to release anything from the bottom of the pan, until nearly all absorbed.
Add 1-2 ladles full of stock to the pan and continue stirring, until the stock is nearly all absorbed. Continue cooking the barley this way, adding the stock a bit at a time and stirring frequently, until the barley is tender enough to eat but still has a slight chew, about 40-50 minutes. A few minutes before it’s done, add the beans. Once the barley is cooked properly, add the sweet corn and continue cooking for a 1-2 minutes, just until the corn is heated through (I like to add about 1/2 ladle of broth at this point; the risotto should be a little “loose”).
Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the butter, cheese, about half the basil, and about half the roasted tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Plate the risotto, and top with the remaining roasted tomatoes and basil. Serve immediately, with additional cheese, if desired.