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Barley Risotto
with asparagus / white beans

Active: 60 Total: 60
Using barley instead of the classic Arborio rice in this version of risotto makes it heartier and more substantial.
Smarts: We often feature hands-off versions of baked risotto in our meal plans, but this version uses the classic stovetop method of adding liquids a bit at a time and stirring occasionally throughout cooking. The cook time on barley will vary depending on the age of the grains and the heat of the stove. Start checking the barley for doneness around 30 minutes but be sure to give yourself enough time to allow it to simmer longer if needed.


Barley Risotto with Asparagus and White Beans:
  • Onions, medium - 1 , diced
  • Asparagus - 1 bunch , trimmed and chopped
  • Cheese, parmesan - 1/2 cup , grated (plus more for serving)
  • Zucchini - 8 oz , grated
  • Beans, any white (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can , drained and rinsed
  • Stock, any type - 4 cups
  • Butter - 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp
  • Barley, pearled and uncooked - 1 cup
  • White wine - 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup (sub stock)
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp


  1. Onions / Asparagus / Cheese - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Pre-cook asparagus - Place asparagus in a microwave-save bowl. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl with a thin layer. Top with a paper towel and microwave on high until asparagus is tender, 2 to 5 minutes (depending on thickness of spears). Season with some salt.
  3. Zucchini - Grate zucchini and squeeze out as much moisture as possible with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
  4. Beans - Drain and rinse.

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  1. Pour stock into a sauce pan and heat it over medium heat. When the stock begins to simmer, reduce heat so it remains hot but not bubbling as you cook the risotto.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven or saute pan over medium heat. Add first portion of butter and then onions to melted butter. Add some salt and saute gently until onions are translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add barley to pan and saute until barley is evenly combined with onions and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add about ⅓ of the warm stock to the barley and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until nearly all of the liquid has cooked off. Next, add the first portion of wine. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until all of the wine has cooked off. Repeat the process, alternating adding stock and wine and letting them cook off, until barley is tender, 25 to 40 minutes. (Depending on how quickly the barley cooks, you may or may not need all of the stock. If you run out of stock, heat some water in the saucepan and use that until the barley is tender.)
  5. When barley is tender, stir in grated zucchini, beans, and asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until zucchini is evenly cooked into the risotto.
  6. Remove pan from heat and stir in second portion of butter and cheese. Squeeze lemon juice over top. Taste and season with some salt and pepper.
  7. Divide barley risotto between serving plates. Top with extra cheese. Enjoy!



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