This convenient alternative to traditional stovetop risotto uses healthy, fiber-rich whole grains--either barley or brown rice--seasoned with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and oil-cured olives. The gentle, uniform heat of a slow cooker allows you to cook a creamy risotto without the usual frequent stirring. Source: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2008

Patsy Jamieson
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Ingredients

Directions

  • Coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a saucepan. Combine the fennel seeds, diced fennel, barley (or rice), carrot, shallot and garlic in the slow cooker. Add broth, 1 cup water and wine, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the barley (or rice) is tender, but pleasantly chewy, and the risotto is thick and creamy, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours on high or low.

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  • Shortly before serving, cook green beans according to package instructions and drain. Turn off the slow cooker. Stir the green beans, Parmesan, olives, lemon zest and pepper into the risotto. If it seems dry, heat the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir it into the risotto. Serve sprinkled with the chopped fennel fronds.

Tips

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare fennel, carrot, shallot and garlic. Combine broth, 1 cup water and wine. Refrigerate in separate covered containers for up to 1 day.

For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition Facts

235 calories; 5.3 g total fat; 1.6 g saturated fat; 6 mg cholesterol; 768 mg sodium. 471 mg potassium; 36.9 g carbohydrates; 8.1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 8.7 g protein; 2093 IU vitamin a iu; 11 mg vitamin c; 27 mcg folate; 124 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 43 mg magnesium;

Reviews (16)

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16 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 13
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 4 stars
05/06/2014
Exactly what I was hoping for! This came out just as i had hoped. Yes it took a long time but I read the reviews and new what to expect 6 hours on high. I love fennel and this came out with a great mild fennel flavour. I didn't have any fennel seeds so left them out. Also didn't have any black olives. Used 1 large and 1 small fennel bulb and also threw in some celery that I needed to use up. Used 2 carrots and 3 shallots. Served to my friends here in Italy and they said a wonderful barley risotto! Thanks for the recipe! Pros: great flavour easy Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/21/2014
Flavorful creamy and simple I forgot the fennel seeds and didn't have a very large fennel bulb (replaced it with some onion instead) and we definitely missed the fennel flavor. Overall this turned out wonderfully! 8 hours on low in my 6 quart slow cooker was just right and it stayed just fine on warm for 5 hours after that. Next time I will definitely use the fennel seeds. The only other change would be maybe to leave out the olives. The barley did get very creamy and absorbed all of the liquid in the recipe by the end of the 8 hours. I imagine it would do fine on high for 4 instead as well. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
07/21/2013
Definitely a keeper! Thanks to previous reviews a few adjustments made this absolutely delicious. I reduced the fennel seeds to 1/2 tsp and the flavour was well balanced and delicate. I used verjuice instead of wine and goat cheese feta instead of parmesan just because that's what I had available on the day. Slow cooked on High for 5 hrs - this was too long. Next time will go no more than 4 hrs to avoid the slight glugginess. Read More
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Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
As some others have said I wish I'd noticed and read the comments first. Was still like soup after 3 and 1/2 hours in the crock pot on low. Cranked it up to high for another 3 hours until it somewhat resembled what a Risotto should be. When it was done it did not taste that great kind of bland and pasty and the fennel is overpowering. Needed a lot of salt and pepper. I might try again and dial back the fennel and use leave the 1 cup of water out. Didn't work great for me but I'm glad some others were pleased. Jeff Baltimore MD Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
I should've read the comments before making this. The fennel is overpowering. The consistency was thing soup. Mel Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
Nasty experiment. Would never make again. Not "creamy" at all -- just gloopy. And the taste didn't make up for the weird texture. Dawn NY NY Read More
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Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
I have cooked this twice. I have learned that it takes at least 6 hours in a slow cooker (on high or low). The second time I eliminated the cup of water and also withheld one cup of broth. I added it in as needed. I skipped the fennel seeds each time and I used 1/2 of a large fennel. I liked the mild fennel flavor. I also skipped the green beans because each time I needed to cook it ahead and couldn't deal with this step. With my changes this will be a part of my repertoire for parties. Goleta Cook Goleta CA Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
Have to agree: took 4.5 hours in the slow cooker before it was done. End result: strange-flavored glop. Not worth the effort. Subscriber Atlanta GA Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
Mine came out fine after 4 hours on high just the right consistency. However BEWARE if you are not a huge fennel fan - this dish is overpowered by the fennel flavor. I could barely eat it and my husband who really likes the flavor of liquorice (which is what fennel and fennel seed taste like) couldn't finish his whole serving. Maybe omitting the fennel seed would bring it down a notch or two but I probably won't make it again. I did like the idea of using barley for a risotto though so I might use this as a base with other vegetables. AR Hamden CT Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
I made this and it was liquidy soup after 4 hours on high in the slow cooker. It also tasted awful. I threw out the leftovers. Amy Spiegel Santa Monica CA Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
I agree slow-cooking for 4 hours on low does not work for this recipe. However on high works great! You can also cook it on the stove by simmering for 45 minutes. My family loved it! Add a piece of grilled fish on top and it is a wonderful meal! Brooke New York NY Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
This worked GREAT for us! We did have to do it on high for about 4 hours but the barely puffed up and it was wonderfully chewy. We added whatever veggies we had along with beans...peas and corn and even the kids loved it. A definite keeper. Slow Cooker Fan Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/30/2011
This recipe does not work. Five hours in the slow cooker and it's thin soup. Very frustrating. Subscriber Evanston IL Read More
Rating: 2 stars
10/29/2011
I agrree should have read comments first Like most i didnt read comments first i agree too long to cook bland and fennel over powers. If I tried it again I would cut back on fennel and water and increase cheese a little. Pros: change from typical rice and potatoe Cons: fennel over powering; too long to cook Read More
Rating: 1 stars
10/29/2011
This is not risotto! Risotto is a process as much as a dish which is why this recipe fails for so many people. You might as well invent something like "Stir-fry in a slow cooker " because stir-fry is a discrete process quite apart from whatever ingredients are involved. Check out true risotto online and stick with the process....this is NOT what slow-cookers are for. Cons: The process is all wrong. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/29/2011
Delicious and Healthy Very tasty and my husband loved it! I added two more carrots and topped with fresh tarragon. I will definitely make it again. Read More