June 21, 2011

Barley Risotto with Chickpeas, Edamame and Tomatoes

This is one of the most satisfying dishes I have made in a long time. I was inspired by this post on Smitten Kitchen, but added in a bunch of other items. One of my best decisions was to throw in some toasted walnuts to give the dish a crunch.

This recipe has a little bit of everything: the barley is pleasantly chewy and slightly nutty; the chickpeas are firm, but also creamy; the edamame tastes fresh; the tomatoes contribute a welcome bit of acidity; the walnuts add crunch and earthiness; and the Parmigiano-Reggiano melts beautifully into everything and adds just the right amount of salt. This dish is very filling, and perhaps it is better suited for the colder months when we are looking for something to stick on our bones, but I enjoyed it just fine on one of the last days of spring.

Barley Risotto with Chickpeas, Edamame and Tomatoes
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen, who adapted a recipe from Food & Wine

Serves 4


4 1/2 - 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (you could really use whatever kind of broth you'd like)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (I used a non-stick pan, so I didn't need much fat; if you are using stainless or something else, you may need more)
3 baby leeks, sliced into half moons and thoroughly cleaned (leeks love dirt and you don't want to bite down on a grain of sand!)
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (I like Contadina)
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 8 oz bag frozen edamame, slightly undercooked (I had bought a bag that you can steam right in the bag in the microwave; I cooked for one minute less than suggested)
2 handfuls walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted (you can toast in a 350 oven for 10 minutes or in a dry pan over medium-low heat on the stovetop)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Bring the broth to a low simmer in a saucepan and keep it at a simmer.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add the onion and leek and saute until soft, a couple minutes. Add the barley and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine and stir until mostly absorbed. Add about one cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition, until most of it is used. It will take approximately 25 minutes to cook, but the best way to know if it is done is to just taste the barley.

3. Add the tomatoes and their juice and cook for a minute or two. Add the chickpeas, edamame and walnuts and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and add most of the cheese. Taste for seasoning (I didn't need to add any salt or pepper). Serve with the remaining cheese. (I had a little bit of the broth leftover, so when boxing up leftovers, I added a little to each tupperware so when reheated it wouldn't be dry.)

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