Recipe: Sarah Copeland's Barley Risotto with Swiss Chard, Radishes & Preserved Lemon

Recipe: Sarah Copeland's Barley Risotto with Swiss Chard, Radishes & Preserved Lemon

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Faith Durand
Jun 1, 2015
(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

This month we're all about glorious, glorious vegetables at The Kitchn, and each week of June we're devoting some special recipe love to a few vegetables that we adore and want to spend extra time with.

First up: radishes, and what better place to start with radish exploration than this smart, summery barley risotto from Sarah Copeland? It requires a bare handful of ingredients but cooks up into a satisfying, colorful meal full of tender radishes and greens.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

Sarah is a brilliant editor and author, currently the food director at Real Simple, and author of The Newlywed Cookbook and Feast — a gorgeous set of vegetarian recipes for all seasons and appetites.

This recipe is from Feast, and we chose it because it's a really great example of using radishes beyond salads and the crudite platter. Sarah throw in preserved lemon for a tart, sophisticated touch, and explains how the barley gets is both homey and gently creamy at the same time. And it's not limited to radishes: "When the season changes from spring to late summer, make this again with multicolored young carrots instead of radishes."

Testing Notes

I really liked making risotto with barley instead of rice, and this version also incorporates a lot of veggies that make it a satisfying vegetarian meal. The radishes stay nice and juicy, and soak in all the flavors of the broth, mellowing out quite nicely.

I find it hard to waste the delicious radish tops, so you can always use the tops instead of the Swiss chard to use up the whole bunch of radishes.

- Christine, June 2015

Barley Risotto with Swiss Chard, Radishes & Preserved Lemon

Serves 4

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
8 to 10 small radishes
1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and torn into large pieces
1 preserved lemon, seeded and thinly sliced
Sea salt
Small handful fresh dill, coarsely chopped
8 large fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped or torn

Bring the stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low to keep warm. Heat the butter in another medium saucepan over low heat. Add the barley and stir to coat, toasting it lightly in the butter. Add 2 cups of the stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the stock is mostly absorbed, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

Add the radishes and remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes. Add the chard and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the preserved lemon and add up to 3/4 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty your broth or lemons are.

Remove from heat. Stir in the dill and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  • Alternative Greens: A mix of chard and sorrel is delicious. And spinach or, later in the summer, beet greens (both are closely related to chard) work beautifully. Buy mature spinach rather than baby leaves, which reduce down to nothing.

Check out Sarah's book! Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite by Sarah Copeland

Reprinted with permission from Feast by Sarah Copeland, copyright © 2013. Published by Chronicle Books.

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