Barley Risotto with Beets and Greens
About 1 hour
Everyone needs a little attention now and then, but risotto isn’t as high maintenance as its reputation. When you make this, go for heartiness and satisfaction and choose the whole-grain barley, even though it takes longer to cook.
1 ½ cups whole-grain (“hulled”) barley
½ cup chopped walnuts
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock or water
4 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
½ cup dry white wine or water
12 ounces beets, peeled and grated
2 cups arugula, or chopped beet greens if they came with the beets
1. Put the barley in a large dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan often, until the barley is golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Put the walnuts in the skillet and repeat the process to toast them the same way. Warm the stock or water in a medium saucepan.
2. Put the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring often, until it is glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the white wine. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid bubbles away.
3. Use a ladle to add the warm stock, 1 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock has just about evaporated, add another ladleful. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles and stir frequently.
4. After 20 minutes, add the beets. Continue cooking the same way, tasting the grains regularly—you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch—it could take as long as 40 minutes to reach this stage, depending on the barley. When the barley is as tender as you’d like, add the arugula or beet greens a handful at a time, stirring until each addition is wilted. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the walnuts, and serve hot.