Barley Risotto with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Risotto is an elevated dish with rustic origins, and is thought to originate from the rice growing regions of northern Italy. While risotto is often associated with fine dining and classic technique, it does not have to be an intimidating dish. The basic idea behind risotto is slowly simmering and stirring a grain in broth to release its creamy texture. While risottos often call for arborio or other specialty rices, the technique can be used with many different grains. Barley Risotto with Brussels Sprouts is a comforting winter dish, rich with nutty flavor from both the barley and roasted brussels sprouts.

Yield: Serves 4


   Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

   Barley Risotto:

  • 5-6 cups low salt vegetable or chicken broth (if you don’t have low salt broth, replace some with water)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • chives (optional topping)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. For the Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Trim and discard the ends. Remove any outer leaves that are discolored, and cut the sprouts in half. If you have uneven sizes of brussels sprouts, cut the larger ones into quarters to ensure even cook time.
  3. Toss the brussels sprouts in a medium bowl with the oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
  4. Spread the brussels sprouts on a silicon baking mat or aluminum foil on a rimmed baking pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely caramelized.  Remove from oven and reserve.
  5. For the Barley Risotto: First, we would start by recommending the use of a kitchen mat or stool if you don’t already have one handy, as you’ll be hanging out by the stove and stirring for about 30 minutes for this recipe.  Heat the broth (or broth water combination) to a boil in a medium sized soup pot, reduce heat to low. Have a ladle in easy reach.
  6. Melt the butter in a large wide mouthed pot/pan, on medium high heat, we like to brown ours. When the butter is melted, add the barely and stir for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to change color and smell nutty.
  7. Add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorns and wine (if you are using) and stir briefly to combine. If you are using wine, allow the liquid to reduce before proceeding to the next step. If you are omitting the wine, you’re going to want to add the broth pretty quickly to prevent your garlic from burning.
  8. Add about 1 cup of broth and stir to distribute. You will want to be seeing a visible simmer in the risotto, adjust the heat accordingly. Stir frequently. 
  9. Once the broth is mostly evaporated, add another cup full, continue to stir and repeat the process until no more broth remains. You are looking for a cook time of 20-30 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and peppercorns prior to serving.  The finished risotto should be creamy, the grain just cooked through yet retain its texture (al dente).  
  10. Serve the risotto immediately garnished with roasted brussels sprouts, chives, and fresh black pepper.