Photo of Spring vegetable and barley risotto by WW

Spring vegetable and barley risotto

Total Time
1 hr 5 min
20 min
45 min
When days begin to lengthen but the weather is still cool, a warm bowl of risotto really hits the spot. This is an easy way to make "risotto" since barley doesn't require constant stirring like arborio rice does. Rich and hearty with fresh spring vegetables and bright notes of lemon zest, this dish is a wonderful one-bowl dinner, side dish and works for lunch as well. Use freshly-grated Parmesan cheese to ensure a creamy consistency. Goat cheese is also delicious in this dish. Try different vegetables to your liking. Winter squash varieties do very well in this type of dish.


Olive oil

1 tsp, extra-virgin

Uncooked leeks

1 cup(s), sliced, white and light green parts only

Reduced sodium chicken broth

4 cup(s)

Uncooked pearl barley

¾ cup(s)


½ pound(s), medium-thickness, trimmed, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces

Sugar snap peas

¼ pound(s), trimmed and cut in half diagonally

Shredded parmesan cheese

¼ cup(s), Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Lemon zest

1 tsp, grated

Unsalted butter

1 tsp

Table salt

¼ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp, freshly ground


1 Tbsp, fresh, chopped

Fresh lemon juice

tsp, or to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large, nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are light golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in broth and barley; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until barley is almost tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in asparagus and sugar snap peas; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in cheese, zest, butter, salt and pepper. Stir in dill and season to taste with fresh lemon juice; serve immediately. Yields about 1 cup per serving.


Instead of dill, try this recipe with chopped parsley or basil.If your asparagus are thick, cut them in half lengthwise before cutting into pieces.