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Barley Risotto with Corn and Basil

Risotto is typically made with Arborio rice, but pearl barley is a good substitute; it produces a dish that is similar in texture but with a nuttier taste and more fiber.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4
Barley Risotto with Corn and Basil

Source: Everyday Food, September 2005


  • 2 cans reduced-sodium chicken broth, (14.5 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 package frozen corn kernels, (10 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated (about 2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth and 4 cups water just to a simmer.

  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add barley; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Then add wine; cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute.

  3. Add 2 cups hot broth mixture; simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Continue adding broth mixture in this manner until barley is tender and mixture is creamy, 40 to 50 minutes (you may not have to use all the broth). Add corn; cook just to heat through, 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in basil and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with extra cheese.


If you prefer, replace the corn with other cooked vegetables, such as peas, green beans, zucchini, or mushrooms.

Reviews (4)

  • Twilson9608 17 Jul, 2012

    I made this as a side for dinner tonight. It. Was. Fantastic! And pretty simple to make! I was wondering what the calories are in one serving...?

  • CassandraRobin_ 18 Aug, 2011

    Very good use of barley! Delicious!

  • blumie 24 Jun, 2010

    This recipe is amazing! I used frozen peas instead of corn (it was a recommended substitute in the Everyday Food Book) and it was perfection. Barley is a whole grain, i.e. even better for you than rice, so this is not only delicious, it is healthy!! FYI, I used a homemade meat chicken stock that provided great flavor. Two cups of basil is a lot, but it gives this dish incredible freshness. High marks!!

  • ehguy11 14 Sep, 2008

    A lighter version of risotto, especially when made with fresh corn off the cob! (I used 2 ears of fresh corn). Really simple to make, just takes time to stir so the barley can absorb the liquid. Used veg. broth (we're vegetarians), but iit is still very flavorful! I highly recommend!

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