Despite the rumors, comfort food and good nutrition are not diametrically opposed. Case in point: this delicious, creamy barley risotto. We use fiber-rich barley as a base instead of rice, and include a delicious array of veggies and herbs.
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Unlike dishes that are brimming with butter and cheese, this one won’t leave you with a bellyache. Instead, the Mediterranean-palate flavors of garlic, fresh thyme and red pepper, combined with a tangy sprinkle of feta and lemon zest, may inspire strong cravings. Be prepared to make it again soon!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pearl barley
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and salt and cook, covered tightly and stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring often, until very tender, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the barley.
- Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a boil. Add the thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender and creamy, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Serve topped with crumbled feta and lemon zest.
Nutrition information (per serving)
Makes 4 servings
Total fat: 9 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Protein: 6 g
Carbohydrate: 50 g
Dietary fiber: 8 g
Sugar: 5 g
Added sugar: 0 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Sodium: 200 mg
— Sara Quessenberry for Cleveland Clinic Wellness.