Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes

  • detailaddict Posted: 09/21/09
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    Yet another delicious grain dish from CL! My husband does not eat eggplant (or onions) so I used 6 cups of sliced portobello mushrooms instead, sauteeing them in the skillet and removing them before cooking the barley. I did not have cherry tomatoes so I cut up a large tomato and stirred it in at the end rather than roasting it, and added a few sun-dried tomatoes, chopped up. The barley did not require the full amount of liquid (4-5 cups; I lost count) but I kept the temperature slightly below boiling, so maybe the liquid didn't evaporate as quickly. I agree that the pine nuts and goat cheese make the dish. This is a time-consuming recipe (esp. with washing/slicing the mushrooms) but I would definitely make it again, either as a side or as a vegetarian entree.

  • SarahSz Posted: 09/27/09
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    First of all, it is impossible to stir anything constantly for 40 minutes unless you are a machine. Secondly, it takes more than 40 minutes for the barley to absorb 7 cups of liquid. That said, you don't have to stir constantly. I gave it a vigorous stirring each time I added more liquid and, other than that, pretty much let it sit. You do have to keep an eye on it, but you can do other cooking while it's going. I love the combination of textures, the filling barley, chewey eggplant, juicy tomatoes, crunchy pine nuts, and luscious goat cheese. The basil adds essential color too. A creative and delicious vegetarian entree (if you use vegetable broth rather than chicken).

  • Micarty Posted: 09/05/10
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    Essentially we agree with all the other reviews - taste was really great, but boy, this is a lot of work (you can't just throw things together and walk away). Given how much we liked it, I think we will definitely put this on our "make again" rotation, and may take into account some of the substitution suggestions. As the first reviewer said, the pine nuts were essential to the flavor of the dish. I doubled them, and will do so again the next time we make this.

  • bob1111 Posted: 08/29/09
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    This risotto was really fantastic. I have never eaten non-rice risotto before, but the barley provided a nice firm texture and nutty flavor. We are vegetarian, so we substituted mushroom broth for the chicken broth, which was excellent. Very creamy, with lots of great flavor from the roasted vegetables. My boyfriend thought the toasted pine nuts were essential. Of course, any risotto is time consuming, but other than the time spent stirring and stirring there was really very little prep work. Once I got the pot going, I chopped the eggplant and toasted the pine nuts during short breaks from stirring. Will definitely make this again on special occasions, and I think it is suitable for company.

  • ELJaves Posted: 09/30/09
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    Delicious dish. We ran out of pine nuts, so they were omitted, but they could have only made the dish better. However, it was very labor intensive (a LOT of stirring) for a weeknight meal. We served it with fresh bread.

  • CarlaBo Posted: 10/18/09
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    My husband couldn't stop raving about this one (usually he has no strong opinions on dinner). We made it without pine nuts (none on hand) and used dried parsley instead of fresh. Can't wait to try it when I have all ingredients on hand. Time consuming but not difficult. Good for weekend meal.

  • busycook1976 Posted: 10/05/09
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    Wow. I LOVED the way this turned out. I'm inspired to try variations in the roasted vegetables, maybe next time I'll try roasted butternut squash and shitake mushrooms, and use sage instead of basil. The eggplant/tomato combo was fantastic. This dish was bursting with flavor. I used wheatberries instead of barley and it was great - definitely took a long time to absorb the liquid, though.

  • sallymanda Posted: 09/13/09
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    I thought this was excellent. I love risotto, but NOT barley and eggplant, so I was a little leary of giving it a try. It was GREAT! I never have wine around, so I substituted 1/2 cup apple juice + 1 TB lemon juice. I didn't think the tomatoes went particularly well, so I added cooked green beans from my garden, a sauteed yellow squash, and some asparagus. The toasted pine nuts make the dish! They help bring all the flavors together--so don't skip those. I also think any white cheese would go well on top--if you don't like goat cheese, try parmesan or even mozzarrella. Adding mushrooms would be fun too--especially shitake.

  • skigirlbikegirl Posted: 10/13/09
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    This was worth the time it took to make it. I used feta and toasted pecans instead of goat cheese and pine nuts because that is what I had in the house and it was SO SO GOOD. I served a garden salad with it. It heated up very nicely the next day for a yummy lunch. I wonder if if would work in the crock pot...the barley part only?? You could use veggie broth and no cheese and make it vegan.

  • E Hughes Posted: 09/19/09
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    This was fantastic. Don't be intimidated by all the stirring because the end result is amazing. As I was cooking I didn't think there were enough seasonings but the goat cheese, basil and pine nuts really shine through to make this very tasty. Highly recommend and great as leftovers, too.

  • ecritic Posted: 10/03/09
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    Terrific. But like the other reviewers noted, VERY time-consuming. I'm thinking of trying it with quick cooking barley or putting the barley with all the liquid in the oven. It was definitely too much work for a week night dinner.

  • joeymaggiesmom Posted: 11/02/09
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    I'm always looking for new eggplant recipes and thought this one sounded different. It was really, really good and well worth the time it takes to make the risotto. I had never heard of making risotto with barley before, but the finished product was very creamy! We didn't have goat cheese, so used feta instead.

  • audra09 Posted: 06/28/10
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    In spite of the barley tasting like it wasn't thoroughly cooked, it was delicious. It took well over the 45 minutes stated in the recipe and it was still crunchy. I had it on medium heat the whole time... Anyone else have that problem - or maybe a suggestion to assure it softens?

  • dlk1217 Posted: 09/04/11
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    This was a very tasty risotto. I like the fact that the barley has a bit more texture (and fiber!) than the usual arborio rice. I didn't have quite enough eggplant, so I added some quartered cremini mushrooms to the roasting pan. I also stirred in some baby spinach at the same time as the cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Of course risotto is going to be time-consuming, but it's worth it. While you don't have to stir it *constantly* once you start adding the broth, the more you stir it (and here, let me say, definitely use all the liquid), the creamier it is going to be.

  • Kate09 Posted: 11/08/11
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    This is awesome! Make it exactly as written. The flavors blend beautifully.

  • pdxcook Posted: 02/26/12
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    excellent dish. Agree with other reviews though that it did take much longer and required a little more liquid. Also took another reviewer's suggestion and substituted a couple cups of chopped mushrooms since I was a little short on the eggplant. Also used 14 oz can of diced tomatoes strained, added juice to broth. Really tasty, fresh basil, goat cheese and pine nuts at end make the dish.

  • Jestep Posted: 03/04/13
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    To the excess time issue, one thing you can do with Barley is par cook it before starting the risotto procedure. Basically boil it for 15 - 20 minutes and then drain in a colander. While doing that, heat the stock, and start the onions/garlic/mushrooms/etc., in the risotto pan. Drain the Barley and continue from there. With Barley it's unlikely you will notice any difference in texture or consistency by the time you're done. I got that trick from a Mario Batali Orzotto recipe. It still will probably require 30+ minutes to get this totally cooked after par cooking. Keep adding liquid and tasting until you get the correct done-ness. Risotto can take forever sometimes.

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