Risotto Without the Rice

What a contradiction “Risotto Without the Rice” because the origin of the word risotto comes from the Italian word riso which means rice. But it is true, I made a risotto without rice! And I think I have a food baby from it. I am so incredibly stuffed.

Maybe I should call this post “So Full Saturday” because it seems that my two meal posts for the day have made my body super satisfied and in no need for additional food intake.

On the menu for the night, my parents had a beef stew planned. I do not eat beef so I had to make my own type of meal to go with this. And honestly if I still ate meat I would have been jealous of whomever that I was with who had what I had just now.

Barley RisottoMy dinner was a super filling barley risotto! I absolutely love risotto. Especially those made vegetarian. Perfection!

I got the recipe from here, but of course tweaked it as one should. You can see the recipe I followed below:


  • ½ cup barley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 small bayleaf
  • 2 strips lemon peel
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
    • ½ can crushed and drained of juices
    • ½ can with juices
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 5 ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Rinse barley under cold water and set aside.

  2. Add olive oil to a small pan and turn burner to medium-low heat and sauté celery, shallots, and garlic for five minutes or until very aromatic.

  3. Add thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, and red pepper flakes. Stir into sautéed vegetables. Add barley and coat in herbs and vegetables. Then add diced tomatoes, ½ can diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, and barley. Stir to combine.

  4. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes stirring frequently to prevent barley from sticking to bottom of pan. Remove from heat once barley is cooked and liquid is all absorbed.

  5. Add crumbled feta and dried oregano and fold into risotto.

  6. Once ready to eat sprinkle additional crumbled feta on risotto and enjoy. 

This was truly delicious. If you like risotto but need or lust to be filled quicker than barley is the way to go!

This risotto had a strong taste of tomatoes (obviously as there is a full can of tomatoes in this recipe), but there was a very significant kick after eating a mouthful of it. My mouth was very much on fire after eating one plate of it. And then of course, like the moron that I am, I had to go back for more! Even though you tasted tomatoes and there was a kick, you could also taste the lemon zest in there. What a fantastic combination of flavours – no wonder I went back for more!

That could be why I am as full as I am. But when if is so good you can’t help but return for some more, right?!

While you are in the kitchen, what are your favourite tools to use? I think I am 100% in love with Zyliss products. Santa Claus got me a Zyliss lemon zester. Oh my God am I in love or what? If you love using different tools in the kitchen like I am, this should be a great addition to the family. Zyliss Lemon Zester

Don’t you just like how the handle is of a similar shape to a lemon?

I used the “sharp holes at the head” to make the lemon zest small and perfectly edible for my meal. This is what it looked like when all herbs were ready to be added to pan:

Herbs and Zest of LemonQuite nice, right? The zester tool could easily make little slivers of lemon peel to add lovely designs for cupcakes or cakes which are infused with lemon.

I’ll be making something with citrus to use this tool again, you can count on it!

Anyway, if you make the barley risotto I hope you enjoy it just as I have. If you follow the recipe as it is written on firsttimefoods.com then you will be eating a risotto of Middle Eastern background. I didn’t follow it to a tee and am not too sure whether this is still Middle Eastern  or falls back as being Italian.

So if you make this I can only say enjoy your meal both Arabic and Italian.

وجبة شهية. and Buon appetito!

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