Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens

I didn’t grow up eating greens.  The closest thing we got was spinach out of the freezer.  In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been attempting to incorporate a variety of leafy greens into our diet.  So far we’re up to broccoli rabe, kale, arugula, and dandelion greens.  I feel like an inept foodie by saying that I find them to be incredibly bitter and I feel I have to brace myself before each bite.  I’ve tried blanching before sauteing, but that just doesn’t seem to help.

However, this does not mean I’m claiming defeat.  I know they have to be good.  Rachael Ray is all about the leafy greens… and if she can do it, so can I.

This recipe is a great introductory recipe for leafy greens.  The barley (which is a heart healthy whole grain) cooks into a creamy risotto, paired with meaty mushrooms, and slightly bitter dandelion greens.  It just works.  Plus it’s really healthy, especially if you use low sodium, low fat chicken broth.  Serve this dish as a side, or beef it up by adding cooked chicken.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens
Barely Adapted from Eating Well cookbook by Williams-Sonoma

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, cremini, button, etc)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups dandelion greens, cut into bite sized pieces (or you can substitute baby arugula for a less bitter taste)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring broth to a simmer.  Turn off heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.  Add mushrooms, 1/4 salt, and a few grindings of pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms have released their juices and start to brown.  Add wine and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.

Add 5 cups of hot broth and the barley.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time if the barley becomes dry.  Cook until barley is tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir in greens and more broth, if necessary.  Cook, uncovered, until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.