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Barley Vegetable Risotto

• 350 g pkg pearl barley, about 2 cups (500 mL)
• 4 cups (1 L) water
• 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped red onion
• 1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
• 1 zucchini, chopped
• 1/4 lb (125 g) mushrooms, sliced, about 1 cup (250 mL)
• 1 large crushed garlic clove
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
• 2 to 3 cups organic chicken broth or bouillon (500 to 750 mL)
• 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each of freshly ground black pepper and hot red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) each of corn kernels and peas, fresh or frozen
• 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place barley in a large saucepan. Cover with water and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender yet firm, about 30 minutes. Drain off remaining water, but do not rinse barley.

2. Meanwhile, chop vegetables. When barley is cooked, melt butter in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. When bubbling, add onion, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic. Sauté, stirring often, until onion has softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine, 2-1/2 cups broth, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, hot red pepper flakes and drained barley. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Then, boil gently, stirring often, until barley has a creamy texture, about 10 minutes. If mixture seems dry, stir in some of remaining broth as needed. Stir in corn, peas and Parmesan. Heat just until vegetables are hot, about 2 minutes. Stir frequently. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and a green salad. Covered and refrigerated, risotto will keep well for up to 3 days. If serving as a main dish, add more Parmesan.