Monday, January 23, 2012

Lentil Barley Risotto Recipe

a suburban greenmom accidentally discovers an amazingly easy cheap delicious vegetarian dinner

Remember last week, when I put my desire to lose weight and eat better (no Slim-Fast shakes here!) out there in print, to keep myself a little more accountable?'s going fine so far. I've found myself craving big crunchy salads, eating less of everything but what I'm eating has a really high percentage of Good For My Body stuff, drinking tea by the liter. Gallon, practically. It's good. (Except that my body is telling me I need a little more animal protein; I'm starting to feel that "off" way I did when I was completely vegetarian for a few months. But I'll do it right.)

I'm in the middle of a nasty virus, and last night I totally didn't feel like cooking anything at all. But we were hungry. And Saturday night we'd caved and gotten Chinese (mostly because, diet or no diet, our local place has this amazing hot spicy noodle soup that hits the spot when I'm sick--clears my sinuses right out), so I didn't want to do crap again.

So I threw some things in a pot. And ignored them for 40 minutes. And dinner was amazing.

You gotta try this:

Lentil Barley Risotto/Soup

  • Saute a small onion and some garlic in a little olive oil
  • Add a few ribs chopped celery and a couple of chopped carrots, saute a little longer
  • Add a can diced tomatoes and 1 quart vegetable (or chicken) broth; bring to boil (Toss in a teaspoon or thyme or a bay leaf if you want.)
  • Throw in half a cup each pearl barley and rinsed green (or brown) lentils; bring back to boil (use less of each if you want a real "soup."
  • Lower heat to slow simmer.
  • Stir every so often to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom, over the next 40 minutes or so. (Stir more as it gets thicker and closer to done (you may want to lower heat even more).
  • Correct seasonings, add a little salt and pepper if it needs it, and serve with a little Parmesan if you want.
This was really good stuff.  And crazy-cheap. Most people don't know that barley, like arborio rice, will give off its starch as it cooks and make a nice creamy risotto-like texture. And it made a lot, so I'm bringing it for lunches as well. 
--Jenn the Greenmom

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