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Barley Risotto with Fennel

January/February 2008

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (102 votes)

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.



READER'S COMMENT:
"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...
Barley Risotto with Fennel Recipe

Makes: 6 servings, generous 1 cup each

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds
  • 1 cup pearl barley, or short-grain brown rice
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or “no-chicken” broth
  • 1-1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. 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.
  2. 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 & Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Per serving: 242 calories; 6 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 10 g protein; 8 g fiber; 474 mg sodium; 330 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (35% daily value), Selenium (20% dv), Vitamin C (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat


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