Creamy Barley Risotto, and Balsamic Glazed Veggies

Ever since last week when I tried my hand at making some brussel sprouts, I haven't stopped thinking about their awkward but fabulous goodness. Brussel sprouts, hated by many, are rightfully treated skeptically. They are different, and require an open heart, they most importantly cannot be rushed, they take time, and patience. Brussel sprouts are best at home when they have been given the time to fully realize their crystallizing possibilities, when they are topped with things that accentuate their unique and intoxicating flavor.

The more you learn, the more you perfect, and the more amazing they become. As a self proclaimed new brussel sprout fan child, sorry broccoli I'll come home again soon, I've learned that they are among the world health organizations Superfoods! Brussel sprouts are excellent vectors of health, they fulfill over 270% of your daily needs in vitamin K, contain powerful antioxidants, help protect your bones and can actually reverse some early stages of bone loss.... not to mention the nutrients help you keep looking young! Bonus!

Tonight I couldn't figure out what I wanted to make for dinner, but I knew one thing, I wanted brussel sprouts, everything else was pretty much inconsequential to me. What I ended up with was a masterpiece of epic proportions! Perhaps not a five star dinner, but definitely a 14 dollar plate at and veggie happy inventive Italian restaurante.

Risotto, typically made from Arborio rice and slightly fried in hot oil before brought to a rolling boil and then reduced to a simmer in broth and stirred consistently for an awful long time, till it's puffy, slightly textural, but soft, creamy, and chewy. Tonight, I didn't have Arborio rice, and while rice is wonderful, it's also incredibly starchy and not so great for digestion. Pearled barley on the other hand, is cheap, flavorful, and simple to cook in a million different ways. I saw an inspirational recipe on SmittenKitchen and decided to go for my own version of Barley Risotto. 

Creamy Barley Risotto
1 Cup of Pearly Barley
2 Cups of water
4 Cups of low sodium veggie broth
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 tsp of Olive Oil
1tbsp of half and half
1/4 cup Italian cheese blend

1. Mix water, wine, broth, oil, and barley in a large sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to med high, and simmer high for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to assist in the barley cooking.
2. When barley has tripled in size, and all but a small amount of liquid remains, still somewhat soupy, but not much. Add half and half and stir completely, then add cheese, turn off heat, and stir till melted completely.
3. Let sit for 3 minutes then serve. Top with Veggie mix, see recipe below. 

Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Onions, & Mushrooms

1lb of whole FRESH Brussel Sprouts, stems removed and halved
1 Large Sweet Onion, halved and sliced with the arch, medium thickness
1 lb of White or Crimini Mushrooms, washed and quartered
~1/4 cup of Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil, or less depending
Salt and Pepper to taste, on top.

1. Preheat Oven to 400degrees.
2. While oven preheats, prepare veggies in a large bowl and mix all ingredients together till they are well coated.
3. On a parchment paper covered cookie sheet (Large one) spread all the veggies out so they have a reasonable amount of room, to much room and they burn, to little and they won't cook properly, a little coziness? It's ok, get a room? No way, get a second cookie sheet instead.
   ~ a side note on this, why parchment? Why not foil, one you can purchased recycled, compostable parchment, which for acting as strictly a method to "not stick" then it served admirably, and it's a significantly greener choice, plus it's better for you, and unlike foil, you DO NOT have to add oil to make the non-stick properties to actually work, Amazing! 
4. Roast Veggies for 15 minutes, turn them, and then roast on other side for another 15-20 minutes. Remember good veggies, take time, it is within the time, the slow roasting that they retain their texture, and release their sugar, and this my friends is the killer combo, savory, sugary, naturally wonderful goodness. 

The journey to finding new loves can sometimes be a tumultuous one, but the many, many times,..... especially in the case of food, it's about forging ahead making a go at it, if you hate it there is always a napkin nearby.


Anonymous said...

I made your balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts, and they are delicious!! I'm glad to see someone shares the same sort of newfound love for this awesome veggie as I do. And I love your photo. But please, it's Brussels sprouts, with an "s." With such a great appreciation for Brussels sprouts, and such a great recipe for them, you don't want to look like an amateur. ;-)

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