Instead of using Arborio rice to make risotto, use high-fiber pearl barley instead. The Thai flavor comes from cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, and red curry paste, and the protein comes from the lean chicken in this satisfying one-dish meal.
1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1 1/4 cups red bell pepper strips
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 cup light coconut milk
4 teaspoons chopped peanuts
How to Make It
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onions and 1 tablespoon garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in barley, 1/4 cup cilantro, salt, black pepper, 1/2 cup broth, and jalapeños; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes).
Combine juice and next 5 ingredients (juice through curry paste); set aside.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onions, 1 tablespoon garlic, lemongrass, and ginger; sauté 1 minute. Add chicken, bell pepper, and peas; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in barley mixture, juice mixture, and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon nuts.
This recipe is essentially a risotto added to a stir fry with a sweet and spicy Asian sauce on top. Lots of work, but definitely worth the effort. I was nervous about using 2 whole jalapenos (not a big fan of the hot stuff), but the sweetness of the veggies balance out the heat of the peppers. I used a shredded rotisserie chicken and it came our perfect, white and juicy. Too much work for a regular week night, but I would make it again for a special occasion.