Looking for a little change in the rice department? Barley is a great way to expand your recipe repertoire because it cooks up to be gelatinous, nutty and delicious. It has a lower glycemic index than rice, contains more fibre and can be just as quick to whip up. In fact, with this recipe you don’t have to stand over the risotto stirring it constantly! You can let it cook up with less hassle.

Also, this recipe is made from ingredients found at my local wholesale store (ie. Costco). Although I love shopping at the local fresh produce markets, sometimes I have to rely on the closest grocery store- which for me is Costco.

Barley Risotto with asparagus and mushrooms. 
Makes 4 large servings

1 1/4 cup Barley, dry
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1.5 lbs Asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 med onion, chopped finely
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
1/2 chicken bouillon cube
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Blanch the asparagus for 2-3 min then cool.
2. Cook the onion, salt, pepper in the oil over medium heat for 5-7 min.
3. Add barley, stir and toast for 1 min.
4. Add in the wine and boil for 1 min.
5. Add in 4 cups of water and the 1/2 cube of chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil then cover, turn down the heat and let simmer for 35 minutes.
6. Add in the garlic and mushrooms and let cook for 10 min.
7. Add in the asparagus spears and let cook for another 10 min.
8. Take off the heat, Stir in the lemon zest and cheese then serve.

Notes: in my rush to cook this delicious dish, I ended up putting the asparagus and mushrooms in at the same time- but it turned out just fine. Also, I made a no-cheese version for my sister who has a dairy allergy and it actually tasted great!