To get through the craziness of the holidays, I've been employing my slow cooker. Today I'm feeling like something creamy and soothing, but I want it to be healthy and light, too. I wasn't sure that could be possible until I came across this risotto, which calls for barley instead of regular Arborio rice. Although the dish will be smooth from hours of simmering in broth, it'll also have a nice texture that's different from rice, along with the bright flavor of fennel. To make this,
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds
1 cup pearl barley or short-grain brown rice
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 vegetable broth
1-1 1/2 cups water, divided
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Coat a 4-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Crush fennel seeds with the bottom of a saucepan.
- Combine the fennel seeds, diced fennel, barley (or rice), carrot, shallot and garlic in the slow cooker. Add broth, 1 cup water and wine, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the barley (or rice) is tender, but pleasantly chewy, and the risotto is thick and creamy, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours on high or low.
- Shortly before serving, cook green beans according to package instructions and drain.
- Turn off the slow cooker. Stir the green beans, Parmesan, olives, lemon zest and pepper into the risotto. If it seems dry, heat the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir it into the risotto.
- Serve sprinkled with the chopped fennel fronds.
Nutritional Information per 1-cup serving: 242 calories; 6 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 8 g fiber; 474 mg sodium; 330 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (35% daily value), Selenium (20% dv), Vitamin C (15% dv)
- Grains , Main Dishes
- North American