corn off the cob: barley risotto

Welcome to a new summer series on A Pear to Remember: corn. Corn is not so exciting—or appealing—when processed for sandwich bread, condiments, granola bars, candy. But let’s consider an ear of corn picked from tall green fields: a 63-calorie vegetable with less than 1 gram of fat, 2.4 grams of protein, and 8% of our daily requirement for dietary fiber. Not so evil.

Sure, we could boil cobs to death and slather with butter. Or, we could slice off the kernals for something a little more exciting. Risotto would not be my go-to summer dinner, unless we’re stirring in seasonal herbs and veggies. The wonderful thing about substituting barley (a fiber-packed whole grain) for arborio rice is how much better it holds up to the cooking process. Risotto is lovely, but there is a fine line before arborio rice becomes thick, gummy and impossible for leftovers. Barley is hearty, more forgiving, and stands up to reheating for lunch. And risotto need not be intimidating: pour, stir, pour, stir, pour and stir under tender—you can do it. Play music, relax.

everyday food, barley risotto, corn, basil, a pear to remember

Here is a substantial summer supper, and a new use for your basil bush beyond pesto.

Barley Risotto with Corn and Basil

from Everyday Food, serves four

1  32 oz. carton reduced-sodium vegetable broth

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup dry white wine

corn kernels from 3-4 ears or 10 oz. package frozen corn kernels

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1/2 cup grated (about 2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

trader joes, vegetable broth, low sodium

In a medium saucepan, bring broth plus 4 cups water just to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add barley; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

quaker brand, barley

Then add wine; cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute.

Add 2 cups hot broth mixture; simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. (I find it’s better to leave a little broth-y than to let the grains overcook and dry out).

Continue adding broth mixture in this manner until barley is tender and mixture is creamy, 40 to 50 minutes (you may not have to use all the broth, but I save it for re-heating the next day). Add corn; cook just to heat through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in basil and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with extra cheese.

My servings may look a little corn-heavy (I used four ears!), but it was sweet, crunchy corn I (literally) purchased in the middle of a field from an overall’d Delaware farmer and I wanted to use every last bit.

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1 Comment

Filed under budget, dinners, health, techniques

One response to “corn off the cob: barley risotto

  1. Ashley Fellers

    Lindseeeyyy!!! It’s so great to be back on your blog again. :) Believe it or not, I’ve NEVER made barley risotto, so if I can snag any last ears of sweet corn at our market tomorrow morning, I’m going to make it! (Yes, it’s 1:10 a.m. and I am reading your blog for ideas — this means you’re included in the best part of my night-owl’s day!!)

    Other random thoughts: I saw your acrylic pieces in your post below and am totally inspired!! When we moved into our current home this spring, the former owner (a very sweet, elderly lady who was also a painter) had left lots of what are clearly old “practice” canvases in the basement. I’ve always thought it would be cool to take her discarded “doodles,” paint over them lightly in white (leaving some of her lines and texture showing through) and splash them with colors and words… like a collaboration, or a cover-album, but with paintings. :) Now that I’ve seen how pretty your acrylic treatments are, I feel brave enough to write her a letter at the assisted living place and ask her what she thinks of this crazy idea! I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Second random thought: So weird, but I’ve always wanted to run a B&B someday too. Have you guys become acquainted with Select Registry yet? We stayed at B&B on the registry last summer and it was clearly extra-fantastic. I think you guys would love getting your hands on a book and working through it.

    Third random thought: your place looks so homey!! :) Love the art!

    Okay, seriously, longest blog comment EVER. Time to go to bed! ;)

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