Photo of Barley-asparagus ‘risotto’ with balsamic vinegar by WW

Barley-asparagus ‘risotto’ with balsamic vinegar

PersonalPoints™ per serving
Total Time
35 min
15 min
20 min
This spring risotto is just as delicious as those made with traditional arborio rice but much less labor-intensive. Pearl barley has been polished to remove its outer hull and bran so it cooks faster than regular barley but retains a lovely texture. Look for authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from the Parma region of Italy to get the distinctively rich, nutty flavor you expect in risotto. Invest in a large wedge, which will keep in the refrigerator for months if wrapped well. It only takes a small amount of freshly grated cheese to add loads of deliciousness to dishes like this one. A splash of aged balsamic rounds out the flavors here with the perfect dose of sweet tang.


Olive oil

2 tsp

Uncooked onion(s)

1 medium, minced

Uncooked pearl barley

1 cup(s), use quick-cooking variety

Fat free chicken broth

3 cup(s), or vegetable broth

Uncooked asparagus

½ pound(s), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces


¼ cup(s), fresh, sliced

Balsamic vinegar

1½ Tbsp

Table salt

tsp, or to taste

Black pepper

tsp, or to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp


  1. Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in barley and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more.
  2. Add broth, cover and simmer over low heat for 8 minutes; stir in asparagus and simmer 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in chives and vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.