We really love risotto at our house. When we visited Italy this past summer, we drove by rice patties in the Emilia-Romagna region where arborio rice is grown. Since no arborio rice is grown locally here in Utah, we have learned to make our risotto with barley, which I also think makes for a healthier dish in general. We get our barley from West Mountain Wheat that is supplied to us via our Utah Farms CSA. You can make this barley risotto from so many different things that we thought we would try it with eggplant, mostly because we had bought a bunch of eggplant at the Farmers Market and did not have time to fry them up to use in Eggplant Parmesan. Since eggplant do not last long uncooked, we needed to cook them fast and this sounded like a good way to do it without having to egg, bread and fry eggplant all night long. Don't get me wrong. I love Eggplant Parmesan and fried eggplant can be frozen to use over the winter but with all my school work, soccer, Girl Scouts and college entrance exams, and all my Mom's work and volunteer activities, frying eggplant just wasn't going to happen and letting the eggplant rot was also not going to happen.
Once again, one of the only ingredients we ever use that is not local is olive oil! You can substitute
butter for the olive oil but it wouldn't be as healthy so we just go ahead and use olive oil without feeling guilty. Now if only someone could grow olives in Utah! Hope you enjoy this delicious recipe and get creative with your own barley risotto recipe.
6 cups diced eggplant
2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes
3 tbls. olive oil
1/2 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
5 cups homemade vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup (2oz) crumbled feta cheese
grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup basil, thinly chopped
chopped nuts, optional (walnut, pine or pistachio)
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place foil on jelly-roll pan.
2) Toss eggplant, tomatoes, 2 tbls. olive oil and freshly grated pepper in a bowl until vegetables are well coated with oil.
3) Place vegetables in a single layer on prepared jelly-roll pan. Bake in 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until eggplant is tender and tomatoes collapse.
4) Combine broth with water and heat to simmer on the stove top. Keep this warm over low heat.
5) Heat remaining 1 tbl. olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook until just beginning to turn translucent. Stir in barley and garlic and cook about one minute; stirring constantly.
6) Add wine. Stirring constantly; cook until wine evaporates.
7) Add one cup warm broth to pan. Stirring constantly until broth is absorbed, then add additional cup of warm broth. Continue this process until barley is tender but firm. You may reach this step before adding all 6 cups of liquid so make sure that nearly all liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup of broth and test the barley with each addition for doneness.
8) Stir in the roasted vegetables.
9) Top with cheese, basil and nuts if desired.