I have found that the barley does take slightly longer than arborio. It also yields a bit chewier texture, however if you like your risotto “al dente” it is quite similar. I add the parmesan at the end just to add the extra creaminess and I figure a little cheese isn’t going to kill me. Never the less, If you want to be extra healthy this can be omitted.
Spinach and Barley Risotto
1 cup minced shallot
12 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup pearl barley
6 cups vegetable broth
½ cup parmesan cheese,shredded
Heat broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallot until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the barley and toast for another minute.
Reduce the heat to medium and add broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the barley is tender but still slightly firm. You may not use all of the broth, but you will use most of it.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the spinach cheese, stirring until cheese is incorporated and spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.