I've been whipping up risotto and tossing in chopped veggies all summer, usually to use up some farmer's market left overs before they go bad. The other night, I went to the kitchen with risotto on the brain only to find I was out of Arborio rice. Eeekkk! But being the lazy creature I am, I rumaged through the pantry to see if I had a substitute. I settled on barley and now have a new favorite throw down dish - Fake Risotto Ala Barley. I know it sounds weird, but stick with me on this.
I added sauteed summer squash, a little pasta sauce and a dash of cheese to make the best fake risotto around. And I think it might even be healthy. At least that's the story I'm going with - it's healthy.
Fake Risotto with Summer Squash
- 1 cup uncooked barley
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2-3 medium summer squash, chopped (I used 1 yellow and 1 zucchini squash)
- 1 small eggplant, chopped (you can peel it if you think eggplants are bitter)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 Tbsp jarred pasta sauce (I know I'm a total slacker for not making my own)
- 2 Tbsp shredded cheese (Parmesan works well)
- In a saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the barley and cook for 5-10 minutes or until most of the broth is absorbed and the barley is puffy. Drain and set aside.
- Saute the veggies in a tiny splash of oil for 2-3 minutes. I use an iron skillet and just enough oil to coat the bottom and prevent sticking. The veggies should be softened but still crisp and crunchy.
- Add the barley to the skillet and mix well. Add the sauce and allow the entire skillet to simmer for 5 minutes. Add more sauce if things dry out too much.
- Add the cheese and mix well. The pan should be creamy. Salt & pepper to taste.
This dish freezes well. I usually freeze it in individual servings for a fast and easy lunch.