You might think of risotto as a winter food – and it can indeed be heavy. But this vegan barley risotto with fresh vegetables and herbs is anything but.
Between the chewy barley, buttery fava beans, tender mushrooms and delicate corn – plus a creamy corn-fava puree – this dish provides a veritable orgy of textures (I promise, that is the first and last time I will use the word “orgy” on my blog!)
The puree, made from a portion of the corn and fava beans, gives the risotto a nice creaminess. However, note that the puree gets absorbed by the barley after refrigeration (as is the case in the photo above), so the risotto is best eaten immediately.
Oh, and if you’re not a vegan – or concerned about cholesterol, like I am – feel free to stir in some Parmigiano-Reggiano just before serving. But not too much, because you want the flavors of the vegetables to shine here.
Barley Risotto with Fava Beans, Corn and Mushrooms
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds fresh fava beans
3 medium ears very fresh, tender sweet corn
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 ½ cups pearled barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable stock, plus more if needed
Salt to taste
½ pound oyster mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Remove the beans from their pods. Bring a pot of water to boil, and blanch the favas for 1 minute. Drain and immediately plunge into ice water. Skin the fava beans (open a section of the skin and pop the beans out). You should have about ¾ cup.
Cut the kernels off the corn. You should have about 1½ cups.
Place half the corn and about a third of the fava beans in a food processor and process until very smooth.
Heat half the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a large deep saucepan or a dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the barley. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
Add the wine. Cook for a minute or two, until the wine has mostly evaporated.
Add a half cup of broth. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat the process, adding the broth in half-cup increments. Continue until the barley is al dente, about 30-35 minutes. You should have used about 3 cups of broth, although some barley will require more. Add salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of your vegetable broth.
Add the fava beans, corn, mushrooms, lemon juice and fava-corn puree. Stir in the final cup of broth, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring gently a few times. Stir in the parsley, basil and black pepper, and serve.
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