Barley “Risotto” with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

Beet Barley Risotto {Breaking Bland Eats}

To help kick off the holiday season I thought I’d share this festively coloured beet “risotto”. This isn’t a traditional risotto, since it’s made with barley instead of arborio rice, but the result is a deliciously creamy dish with roasted beets and tangy goat cheese. The barley adds a wonderful nuttiness and it’s almost impossible to overcook, so no need to worry about a mushy risotto!

When shopping for beets, I like to pick bunches with the green leaves still attached. It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one, what a deal! Those leafy greens wilt down beautifully and can be added to anything from pasta dishes to soups or stews. I often prepare the greens as a side dish, sautéed in a little olive oil, garlic, and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good pinch of salt.

You can roast the beets in a 400F oven for 45-60 minutes, or if you are pressed for time you can achieve similar results in the microwave.  Simply place the beets in a microwave safe dish with a few tablespoons of water, ensuring you poke a few holes in the beets so they don’t explode, cover, and cook for 5-15 minutes depending on the number and size of your beets.

Now time to start my holiday baking, stay tuned for recipes!

Barley “Risotto” with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese     Serves 4-6, Recipe created by Kirsten

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of pearl barley
6-7 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium beets, with greens attached
¼ cup of goat cheese
¼ cup of parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare beets:
– Remove the beetroot from the leaves. Wash the leaves and roughly chop, set aside.
– Scrub beetroots and roast in a 400F oven for 45-60 minutes or covered in the microwave (see directions above).
– Allow beets to cool slightly before peeling and dicing into 1/4 inch cubes, set aside. Tip: if you don’t want to stain your hands I recommend using disposable kitchen gloves for this job.

Make the risotto:
– Bring stock to a boil in a medium pot and keep warm over low heat on a back burner.
– Meanwhile in a large heavy bottomed pot sauté butter, oil, and onions over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
– Add garlic and barley and stir for another 5 minutes or until barley become lightly toasted and brown.
– Slowly add hot stock, about ½-3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed.
– Repeat this step with remaining stock until barley has absorbed all the stock, about 30 minutes. If it seems too dry you can add more water or stock to get to your desired consistency.
– Add roasted beets, beet greens, and goat cheese. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until barley is cooked and beet greens are wilted.
– Season with salt and pepper, and before serving stir in parsley.

Note:  You can substitute kale or spinach for the beet greens.

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