Sunday, December 7, 2014

Slow Cooker Barley and Chickpea Risotto

I was about to post another Halloween recipe -one that is most definitely Halloween and couldn't in any way be made to seem Christmas-y - but then Mark and I put up our tree tonight.  And we have the lights off, just sitting in the glow of the tree, and the glow of Elf on TV, of course... so the thought of blogging about spider cookies is just beyond what I can handle. I'm going to skip over it for now.  Hopefully next September I'll remember.  Will you remind me?  Spider cookies.  September.  Thank you.

Forging straight along: you know my new love for my slow cooker, and also my love for risotto.  I've made corn risotto twice since mastering the art of risotto, and each time, the pan has been scraped clean.  It's so delicious, and so much easier than I expected, but it is labor intensive.  You have to stand there stirring nonstop for at least a half hour.  I normally don't mind this, but it's definitely not a weeknight meal.

Another important note: I have probably 3 pounds of pearl barley in my pantry.  I have no idea why.  I am not even sure what recipes I needed it for.  All I know is that I bought it twice, and once it was from Wegman's where you fill your own bag and I got a little overzealous with my bag filling.

So put my love for slow cookers and risotto, and my overabundance of pearl barley, all together, and then imagine my glee upon finding a recipe that combines them all: slow cooker barley and chickpea risotto.  It has some great little surprises in there, too: chickpeas for protein (yes this was a full meal here, and then lunch for many days!), cauliflower, and carrots.  The secret ingredient is lemon juice that gets squeezed over the whole thing when it's done cooking.  It brightens all the flavors (like thyme and garlic) and ties everything together.  I happily ate the leftovers for days - it reheats beautifully.  Make it on a Sunday afternoon, be ready by dinner time (it's ready in 3 hours), and enjoy it for the rest of your hectic week.


slow cooker barley and chickpea risotto
from Foxes Love Lemons

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/4 cups pearl barley, rinsed
1 can (15.5-ounces) garbanzo beans/chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1) Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, garlic, cauliflower, and onion.  Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2) Stir in thyme and barley, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

3) Transfer mixture to slow cooker bowl.  Stir in beans, broth, water, salt, and pepper.  Cook on high 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until barley is tender and most liquid is absorbed.

4) Remove and discard thyme sprigs; stir in lemon juice.  Serve in warm bowls garnished with cheese and parsley.

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