One of my absolute favorite combinations is tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil so in the summer when the tomatoes and ripe and the basil is overflowing, I take full advantage of it. My trip to the farmer’s market last weekend put me in a prime position to do just that. First, I saw some B-E-A-utiful tomatoes at a stand where a woman was dashing around like a crazy person weighing, bagging, and selling tomatoes quicker than I thought was humanly possible. This was purchase #1 leading me to make this dish.
Next, I came upon a cheese stand who named their cows. I literally couldn’t walk away without supporting a farm that named their cows so I snagged a bag of mozzarella curds. Now I had tomatoes, mozzarella, and just needed some basil. Luckily my mom’s herb garden had a little growth spurt and there was more basil than she knew what to do with. Being the nice daughter I am, I gladly took some off her hands.
Now that I had the star ingredients, I was ready to make my risotto. One problem: no arborio rice. I did however, have barley, so I decided to try the risotto-method with the barley. It ended up turning out great, and full of the fresh summer flavors that I love.
Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Barley Risotto
adapte from Living Tastefully
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 1/4 cups barley
1/3 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup milk
1 cup mozzarella curds (if using a log fresh mozzarella, dice it up and measure)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring vegetable broth to simmer and keep warm.
In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
Add barley and stir to coat with olive oil. Cook 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed. Add 1 cup of chicken and cook until nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.
Keep adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, adding more when previous addition is nearly absorbed. Stir constantly. By stirring constantly, I mean stir pretty often but you don’t have to stand over your stove the entire time. I cut up the tomatoes and basil during this time but I generally went back to give it a stir every minute or so.
When all of broth has been absorbed, add 1/2 of milk and simmer until nearly absorbed, then add rest of milk. After all milk has been absorbed, remove from heat and add mozzarella. Stir to melt the cheese. Add basil and tomatoes. Serve it up.