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Barley Risotto with Chicken, Mushrooms and Greens

Often overlooked on the modern table, barley has a pleasantly chewy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. When stirred into broth over low heat, it cooks into a creamy risotto-style dish. Meaty mushrooms and slightly bitter dandelion greens make this a delicious early fall dinner. If dandelion greens are not available, substitute baby arugula.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups dandelion greens, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

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

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, the 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grindings of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their juices and start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute.

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

Stir in the dandelion greens and more broth, if needed. Cook, uncovered, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).