Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto

In my world of vegan eating, grains are the ho-hum part of my meals. Whole grains have a ton of health benefits (they lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health), but I just don't get very excited about them. My go-to grains are oat bran and oatmeal, brown rice, and homemade whole-wheat bread (which is a stretch). Sometimes I decide to be super healthy and make quinoa, and sometimes I go crazy and have white rice.

In the spirit of needing to diversify my grain eating, I made the Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto from Vegan Yum Yum...and fell in love! If this is what whole-grain eating can be about, I'm totally in.

I've never had barley before and was so surprised by how chewy it was, I cooked it 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for. It was still chewy, but wonderfully so. The final dish was super creamy, tomato-y, and just plain yummy. This would be a great side dish to bring to a potluck, and omnivores will have no clue that the creaminess comes from soymilk and nutritional yeast instead of butter and milk.

Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1.5 cups canned pureed/diced tomatoes (14.5-oz can), pureed a bit in a blender or mashed
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp miso, mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  1. Put the barley olive oil, basil, and oregano in a cold medium-sized pot that has a lid. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir well until barley is coated with oil. 
  2. Once the barley sizzles (about a minute), add the minced garlic and cook for another minute then add the tomatoes, milk, water, nutritional yeast, miso, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low.
  3. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir well, re-cover, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until it's as chewy as you like.The mixture should be creamy, but not soupy, and the barley should be very chewy and not mushy.


  1. I made this not too long ago and thought it was pretty good, although there was too much miso for my taste. Did you put the whole 3 tablespoons? I've seen this recipe adapted on other blogs, and they would only put like half a tablespoon. I agree with you that whole grains can be boring, aside from pasta. You just have to make sure there is a lot of spices in it, or a nice sauce to make it more tasty.

  2. I did use three tablespoons of red miso, and I couldn't even taste miso. Nor was it too salty. The recipe calls for white, I think, so maybe red is more mellow?

  3. Actually, I'm pretty sure white miso is the one that is the least strong. I'll have to try that recipe again.