Barley Risotto Recipe – Italian orzotto

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Orzotto is like an Italian risotto but instead of being made with rice it’s made with barley and it goes well with vegetables, soup and even meat; for this reason it is suitable for those who want to introduce other cereals in their diet to not be limited to consumption of rice and pasta. Let’s find out how to make a good and healthy orzotto, or barley risotto, at home.

Which barley do I have to use for the orzotto?

To make the barley risotto you can choose the hulled barley or the pearl barley. The first keeps most of the features of the pure barley but it is subjected to a treatment that allows him to be put to soak for 12-13 hours, less than the classic barley. The pearl barley, instead, is subjected to an even more radical treatment which leads to the removal of the external part so as to eliminate completely the step of soaking but, at the same time, to also eliminate part of the fibers, the mineral salts and the vitamins. The best orzotto should be made with the whole barley but it requires very long time; the pearl barley allows to make a good orzotto and treat it like a rice, cooking it accordingly.

How to make a perfect Italian barley risotto or orzotto

You can prepare the orzotto in two different ways:

  • Boiling it in salted water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and season to taste;
  • Toasting it in a little oil and then treating it exactly like rice for risotto, cooking it along with the ingredients and the broth.

In the first case the result will be very similar to a rice salad with ingredients not really mixed and ideal to be eaten cold with the addition of excellent extra virgin olive oil; in the second case you’ll have a real creamy barley, exactly like a risotto.

Is the orzotto gluten free?

Not at all: barley, even when treated, contains gluten so if you want to make something similar to an orzotto without using the barley you need to use millet or buckwheat.

Everything you need to know about the pearl barley for your orzotto

100 grams of pearl barley are a little more than 300 calories and they are rich in carbohydrates, followed by protein and finally fat. They contain less than 10 grams of fiber every 100 grams and a very low amount of minerals due to the refining process to which the germinated barley or the integral one is subjected before becoming pearly.

Some ideas for a good barley risotto

Here for you some combination that always works, for a really delicious orzotto:

  • with cereal and legumes (as in the pictures);
  • with mushrooms;
  • with zucchini, peppers, eggplants and fresh tomatoes;
  • with parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil and pepper;
  • on a salad with feta cheese and fresh vegetables;
  • on a salad with tuna, capers, olives.

Barley risotto with cereals: the recipe for 2 people

200 grams of hulled barley
50 grams of chickpeas
50 grams of green lentils
1 liter of vegetable broth
Extra virgin olive oil
Chili pepper

  • Soak the hulled barley, the chickpeas and the green lentils for at least 12 hours.
  • Prepare a vegetable broth then, after 12 hours, drain the grains and the cereals and transfer them into a bowl.
  • Sauté onion and red pepper then, when ready, add the mix of barley and cereals to the pan allow faster toasting.
  • Prepare the orzotto like a risotto and cook it adding broth as it begins to retreat, stirring constantly.
  • When cooked, that is when the barley and other legumes have become soft but still whole, add a little extra virgin olive oil and serve the orzotto alone or with grated Parmesan cheese.

You can also prepare this recipe using pearled barley, taking care to soak lentils and chickpeas so that they can then cook together with the barley; to make your life easier, use legumes in jar without the water.

[Pics by Giuseppe]

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Categories: Healthy recipes, Main dishes, Pasta and rice, Seasonal recipes, Traditional Italian recipes, Vegetarian recipes
Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina
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