barley risotto with leeks and mushrooms


i like food that’s good for me.

when i was growing up, my mom and grandma used to tell me the benefits of food. at the dinner table, they’d say things like, “if you eat carrots, your eyes’ll shine.”, “have more seaweed, it’ll make your hair more beautiful.” or “don’t eat too much eggplant, it’ll cool your body.” etc… it wasn’t like a lecture, though. it was more like…just a part of dinner conversation.

they also used food to cure my pains. when i had muscle pain, they’d make paste from flour and spread it all over on my legs. when i got a prickle in my finger, they’d sprinkle some salt to soften my skin to remove it easily. believe or not, it worked.

health-conscious information is a big deal in japan. there are tons of health-related tv quiz shows or cooking shows. in elementary schools, dietitians draw cute illustrations on school lunch menus to describe how milk will help grow healthy bones, for example.

so in my mind, health and food share the same meaning. when i need more vitamins, i don’t grab vitamin pills, i grab vegetables.

after a long week, my skin looked a little tired. so i chose barley for dinner. barley is one of the foods i like to use often. this oldest cultivated grain is said to balance the digestive system and improve circulation. if you eat it regularly, it’ll soften your skin and you’ll feel refreshed!

i know, it might be just a superstition. who cares? believing is everything.

again, i forgot to keep track of what i used. so here is the hypothetical recipe:

recipe: barley risotto with leek and mushroom

  • 1 leek (only white part), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • a handful or more of brown mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • s + p

saute these in 2 tsp of olive oil in a pot until they turn golden brown.

  • 5 pieces of sundried tomato, diced

add the sundried tomatos to the sauted vegetables.

  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • 2 cups of water

add barley to the sauted vegetables and slowly add some water. stir until the water evaporates, then add some more water.
cover the lid, stirring occasionally

  • 1 cup or more of organic unsweetened soy milk

when the barley mixture is cooked, turn off the heat and add soy milk slowly as you stir. then add:

  • dash of soy sauce
  • S + P to taste
  • minced parsley

to the risotto.

for garnish, i used sauteed asparagus and ham, diced red pepper, and shaved asiago cheese.

it’s very creamy even without adding a lot of cheese. soy milk gives a rich flavour.

to finish off, i squeezed some lemon juice on my last bite. i was left with a rich and fresh flavour… heaven!

Author: yuka

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