the taste space

Lemon-Kissed Tomato Barley Risotto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 20, 2012

I was all ready to share with you some tasty zucchini-centric meals this week.

However, my zucchinis  were side-lined in the fridge once I went on a mission to find tomatoes. It is easy to find red imposters. You know, the things that look like tomatoes but don’t taste like tomatoes… but I wanted summer fresh tomatoes. My quest brought me to my closest farmer’s market where I quickly scurried from stall to stall, sniffing their tomatoes. Sniffing out the imposters.

Sadly, unlike the Jean Talon market in Montreal, there are limited samples so I had to resort to my nose to find the best tomatoes.

All of a sudden, it hit me. Tomato. I smelled it. I found my winning tomatoes. Bright red smallish heirloom tomatoes that looked lumpy and stout.  The flavour did not disappoint. I brought home 2 pints to make this risotto I had bookmarked last year, waiting for this summer’s tomato bounty.

Super simple to make, I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve made a risotto. Dump all the ingredients into a pot, let it simmer until the barley is tender. Towards the end, I kept adding more and more stock until a creamy, yet chewy barley risotto was attained. Positively drenched in silky tomatoes, speckled with chunks of garlic, with a hint of lemon and thyme and a depthness from smoked paprika, this made a delicious end-of-summer meal.

Sadly, now that I have re-discovered barley risottos, I have very little barley left. I don’t plan on replenishing it, either. I suppose I will have to try out spelt berries risottos, instead!

Of course the real quandary is whether to buy a HUGE bushel crate of San Marzano tomatoes. A Portuguese grocer near my home is selling them for $19. I bet they would be wonderful all roasted and I could try my hand at canning. But could I eat my way through all of the tomatoes?

Here are some other whole grain risottos I have my eye on:

Rustic Rebel Risotto from Radiance 4 Life
Red Beet Risotto with Walnuts from Big Vegan
Easy Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto from Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Barley Risotto with Thyme and Star Anise from Let Them Eat Vegan
Tempeh Orzilla from Post Punk Kitchen
Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini from Post Punk Kitchen
Saffron Speltotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from River Cottage

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Eat Make Grow, and to My Kitchen, My World for Italy.

Lemon-Kissed Tomato Barley Risotto
Adapted from Ottolenghi

1 tbsp olive oil
2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and coarsely chopped (I used 20 cloves)
750g fresh tomatoes, peeled (if you want) and chopped
1 cup passata (or crushed tomatoes)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
1 tsp dried thyme, plus fresh thyme for garnish
lemon zest from half a lemon
1 tsp salt
1.25 cups (270g) pot barley, well rinsed in cold water and drained
1-2 cups water (I used 1 cup water and 1 cup vegetable broth), as needed
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp agave or sweetener of choice
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Ina  large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and saute until golden and fragrant , around 3 minutes. Do not let it burn. Add the tomatoes, passata, smoked paprika, chili flakes, thyme, lemon zest, salt and barley. Add 1 cup of water.

2. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 45-75 minutes, until the barley is tender. Stir occasionally, especially closer to the end. Add water as required. I ended up adding at least another cup (in 1/4 cup increments) of vegetable broth until my barley was tender.

3. Add lemon juice and sweetener. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme.

Serves 4.

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18 Responses

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  1. sprint2thetable said, on August 20, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Perfect timing – I just got a TON of tomatoes from my doorman.

    Side note – do you read betterwithveggies.com? She posted a vegan risotto today too that I thought you might like.

  2. Bonnie said, on August 20, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Those tomatoes are beautiful and your risotto looks gorgeous as well. I’ve seen barley risotto recipes before and they always sound so delicious – I should really try it sometime!

  3. moveeatcreate said, on August 20, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    This sounds sooo good. I want to throw nicely cooked, simple beans on a plate next to it for dinner. Yum.

  4. Eileen said, on August 20, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Barley risotto is the best! I don’t think I’ve used actual rice to make risotto in years, and I don’t miss it at all. :) You should definitely get the whole flat of tomatoes and can them! Real summer tomato sauce will be a major treat in winter, right? Do it!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 20, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      YAYAYA! This is the kind of encouragement I need. If I still have the gusto by Saturday, I think I will make it my day plans for Saturday. :)

  5. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on August 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    You know, I have never made my own risotto and have only ever eaten it a couple times- never vegan! I need to get on that lol. Especially after seeing this one. I love how the flavour base is tomato and it’s not super heavy! And I completely relate to your hunt for real tomatoes. The tomatoes they carry in grocery stores sometimes just make me sad. It’s scandalous what will pass for a tomato these days ;)

    • janet @ the taste space said, on August 20, 2012 at 8:11 PM

      You summed up my thoughts on this dish perfectly… light yet flavourful. :) I think you’ll love this. :)

  6. healthninja said, on August 21, 2012 at 6:35 AM

    Beautiful! It looks like a comfort food but is so healthy. And I do enjoy barley, way more than the typical pasta in tomato sauce. So this one will be a great weekend dish, as soon as it cools down here in Germany.

  7. Joanne said, on August 21, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I think REAL tomatoes have finally hit nyc and I couldn’t be more excited about it! This risotto is definitely being made. Barley risotto >> regular arborio risotto.

  8. Richa said, on August 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    love that color.. i just picked up some barley yesterday! time to try some comforting risotto

  9. [...] I just bought 53 lbs of tomatoes (yes, I did it!) I think I should focus on [...]

  10. [...] think 50 lbs of tomatoes was that much. I mean, the guy next to me bought 2 crates. I had ho-humed over buying San Marzano tomatoes for $19/big crate but when the Romas came on sale for $10/bushel (53 lbs), I decided I had nothing [...]

  11. [...] with garlic and thyme were a common sighting at barbecues and many of my dishes use thyme (lemon-kissed tomato barley risotto, tomato-pomegranate vinaigrette, etc). My piddly thyme plant was nearly always being [...]

  12. Kelly Norman said, on August 10, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    this recipe was so good! I can’t get enough lemon nowadays. I added some yellow eyed beans to the barley and next time I might add some veggie sausage. this recipe is a winner!


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