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Eating well

October 20, 2015

Healthy recipe: Barley risotto with asparagus and lemon

Say hello to spring with this bright-tasting, meatless main course. Barley is a superfood that packs key minerals along with a whole lot of fibre.

Makes four servings


  • 2 tsp (10 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pearl barley
  • ½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
  • 4 cups (1 L) reduced-sodium, ready-to-use vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 lb (500 g) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 cup (250 mL) frozen petite peas, thawed
  • ½ cup (125 mL) packed fresh basil leaves, chopped, divided
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and barley; cook, stirring, for five to six minutes or until onion is softened. Add wine and cook, stirring, for three to five minutes or until liquid is evaporated.
  2. Stir in two cups (500 mL) of the broth. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until barley is tender and mixture is creamy (there should still be some liquid).
  3. Stir in asparagus and simmer, stirring occasionally, for four to five minutes or until tender. Stir in peas, half the basil, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice; simmer for one minute or until heated through. Serve sprinkled with the remaining basil.

Nutrition per serving

Calories 345
Total fat 6 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 430 mg
Carbohydrate 57 g
Fibre 15 g
Protein 12 g
Calcium 183 mg
Iron 2.8 mg

Excerpted from 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with publisher permission. Image credit: Colin Erricson

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