Ingredients (serves 8):
- 10 large plum tomatoes, about 1 kg total weight, peeled and each cut into 4 wedges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable stock or broth
- 3 cups water
- 2 shallots, chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine, optional
- 2 cups pearl barley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra ungrated Parmesan for making curls for garnish
When cooked slowly, barley takes on a creamy texture like that of the short-grain Arborio rice used in Italian risottos — but with a lot more fiber. Serve as a hearty side dish or light vegetarian main course.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Arrange the tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Toss gently to mix.
- Roast until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside 16 tomato wedges to use for a garnish.
- In a saucepan, combine the vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep at a simmer.
- In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the white wine, if using, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Stir in ½ cup of the stock mixture and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Continue stirring in the stock mixture in ½-cup increments, cooking each time until the liquid is absorbed before adding more, until the barley is tender, 45 to 50 minutes total.
- Remove from the heat and fold in the tomatoes, chopped basil, parsley, thyme and grated cheese. Add the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir to combine.
- Divide the risotto among warmed individual shallow bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted tomato wedges and the whole basil leaves.
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut a curl or two of Parmesan cheese for topping each serving.
Nutritional analysis per serving:
- Calories – 252
- Sodium – 440 mg
- Total fat – 6 g
- Total carbohydrate – 45 g
- Saturated fat – 2 g
- Dietary fiber – 9 g
- Monounsaturated fat – 3 g
- Protein – 9 g
- Cholesterol – 10 mg