Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Risotto Style Barley or Quinoa and Easy Pumpkin Pudding

Another Tuesday, another ladies' luncheon.

I've been reading about risotto a lot. I've never had it or made it--mainly because it calls for arborio rice. And white rice makes my sugar skyrocket! So even though it looks interesting and all taste reports are nothing short of raves, I just could not see myself making or trying it.

Until yesterday.

I ran across a blog that featured Barley made risotto-style with great results. Then I wondered if I could do the same with quinoa--yes, recipes exist! So I knew I was on the verge of an idea.

So this morning I got up early and made two kinds of risotto--one with barley, the other with quinoa, but both with the same other ingredients. My plan was to stuff the risotto fillings into baked acorn squash halves for today's lunch for my five guests and I.

Personally I found the flavor of the barley version much more satisfying. Perhaps it was because of the size of the grain--larger than quinoa, it certainly absorbed much more broth (=flavor), and the texture was very nice. It even seemed creamier.

For dessert, I served a lovely Easy Pumpkin Pudding I concocted very quickly using sugar-free instant pudding as a starting point. What a treat, and delicious, to boot!

All in all, a long morning--but so worth it!

Risotto-Style Barley or Quinoa

As you may already know, risotto doesn't often have much of a recipe per se as a method. It is the method of cooking rather than a rule. So I'll share with you the procedure that I used, along with ingredients, as best as I can.

about 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup barley or quinoa, rinsed well
several cups chicken broth (amount depends on which grain you use; I used a combination of homemade chicken broth and tomato-chicken bullion, with a little red wine tossed in for good measure)
3 cups sliced cooked chicken
1/2 cup milk (I used 2% milk)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. In a hot stock pot or dutch oven set over a medium flame, add a good drizzle of olive oil (I'd guess about 2 tablespoons) and butter. Immediately add onion and mushrooms. Stir to coat all veggies with a coating of oil/butter mixture; continue to cook until mushrooms give up their liquid.

2. Stir in garlic and barley or quinoa. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Ladle in (my ladle is about 1/2 cup volume) more broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed. (Note: I kept a large pot of my broth on a very low flame--just warm, not even a simmer--on a back burner so it was warm when I added it. This is an important step so you don't have to wait as long.) Continue this process of adding broth and stirring until liquid is absorbed until the grains will no longer absorb all of the liquid. You will know when you're getting close to that stage by tasting the grains as you go--when they are almost done, the texture will be al dente.

3. Stir in chicken, milk and parmesan cheese and cover; remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes. At this point, I covered the pan and put it in the oven to hold until lunchtime--but you could finish from here. Serve hot on its own or inside a roasted acorn squash half or any other way you wish.

I must admit that although the presentation was lovely in the acorn squash, the flavors did not blend overly well. Next time I'll skip the squash... but both rosottos were excellent.

Easy Pumpkin Pudding
serves 8

2 boxes (4-serving size) instant pudding mix (I used sugar free vanilla--butterscotch is perfect for this recipe, too) -- Prepare with milk according to package directions FOR PIE
1 15-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. Serve in pretty glasses topped with whipped cream or--like I did--a wee bit of sugar-free non-dairy hazlenut creamer. Mmm!


chemcookit said...

What a nice idea! You know there's a special name for the barley risotto? It's called 'orzotto' (from orzo, which means barley in Italian, versus riso, which means rice). I love orzotto too, and your version seems delicious and in perfect season. :)

Mrs. W said...

I didn't know that... what a lovely name for a delicious dish!

Carrie said...

Are you sure you're not gluten-free like me! You make a lot of things that fit into that category! I LOVE quinoa! That looks really good!!

Mrs. W said...

Hi, Carrie,

Well... I'm not gluten-free per se, but I do avoid processed grains as much as possible. And all sugar, except for some agave nectar. It's better for me. Basically I do a low-glycemic index dietary lifestyle.

I'm a huge fan of quinoa, myself. I find it's an easy replacement for bread, even for holiday stuffing!

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