Low-Glycemic Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

Mushrooms and barley team up in this low-glycemic recipe. Pearl barley has a creamy texture and can provide a great low-glycemic base for a hearty vegetarian meal. Because pearl barley is processed, it doesn’t have as high a nutritional value as regular barley, but it’s still a good source of fiber and B vitamins. If you can find regular hulled barley, feel free to give it a try! A half cup of pearl or hulled barley has a low glycemic load, and up to a cup still has a medium glycemic load. Just don’t exceed a cup!

For a vegan alternative, simply omit the Parmesan cheese and use trans-fat-free margarine in place of butter.

Low-Glycemic Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms

1/2 cup finely chopped crimini mushrooms

1-1/2 cups pearl barley

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable broth over low heat; let it simmer while you follow Steps 2 and 3.

  2. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, oil, and onion over medium-high heat. Sauté the mixture until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the onion mixture, and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the barley, and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the barley is lightly golden. Gradually add the wine, and stir until the barley has absorbed the liquid. Mix in the thyme and bay leaf.

  4. Add 1 cup of the hot vegetable broth to the barley mixture, and stir until the barley has absorbed the liquid. Continue adding broth, 1 cup at a time, and stirring until the barley absorbs all the liquid. (Adding all the broth takes about 18 to 30 minutes, or 3 to 5 minutes per cup.)

    You know the barley mixture is finished when the barley grains are tender and the whole dish is a nice, creamy consistency. You may not need all the broth to hit this desired creaminess. On the other hand, you may need more broth than the recipe calls for and may need to add an additional cup, depending on how you like your risotto cooked.

  5. Remove the mixture from heat, take out the bay leaf, and stir in the peas and Parmesan. Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: Calories 282 (From Fat 47); Glycemic Load 5 (Low); Fat 5g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 9mg; Sodium 663mg; Carbohydrate 50g (Dietary Fiber 11g); Protein 10g.

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