Barley Risotto with Roasted Beets, Garlic, and Lemon

Barley risotto. Well first of all, you might know of our love affair with risotto. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. And not to be too repetitive, but yes, another beet risotto recipe. I promise you, if you can’t get with beets or risotto, you should try this and I guarantee it will convert you.

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It started with a recent trip to a farmer’s market a few towns over to scout out other vendors/farms and see some “competition”. While we were there, I saw some beautiful chioggia beets. I had just asked Farmer B what we wanted for dinner and he said something with beets, so really it was destiny.

I had a new bag of pearled barley (I can’t find whole barley anywhere, so I need to go order it from the Upstate Food Co-op) and an itching to cook something sophisticated. (After I put Farm Baby down for the night) I roasted the beet roots with olive oil, salt and pepper and then I thought while the oven is on, I might as well roast everything. So I threw some whole, unpeeled garlic cloves and a couple slices of lemon on the baking sheet and threw it in. I defrosted some homemade chicken stock, thank you Blondie (an old Red Star hen that we recently harvested), sliced an onion, threw on some tunes (Alabama Shakes) and got to cookin’!

If you just can’t get with the beets, please, please try barley in place of arborio rice next time you make risotto. The barley is nutty and chewy.The flavor and texture completely out-do arborio rice. I will say if you plan on a soft, delicate risotto, like this one, I might not use barley. It is hearty and the other ingredients need to stand up to it. You can use the below recipe as a guide to cooking the barley risotto, but if you don’t want to read the recipe and want the quick version: soak the barley (1-2 hours) and rinse very well, while you don’t need more liquid, it does take more time than rice, so plan for 45 minutes – 1 hour. Barley risotto doesn’t get creamy like arborio.

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Barley Risotto with Roasted Beets, Garlic, and Lemon


  • 1 bunch of chioggia beets with tops
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2-4 slices of lemon,seeds removed
  • EVOO
  • S&P
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley, soaked and rinsed very well
  • Fresh thyme, parsley, chives
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional – if using reduce amount of stock)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 quarts of stock (I used about 5 cups) can be chicken, vegetable, mushroom, whatever you got and fits your diet


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Beets. Trim off the top greens, wash thoroughly, and slice into ribbons. Peel the root and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Spread on oiled baking sheet. Season with S&P.
  3. To the greased baking sheet, add the lemon slices, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with  EVOO. Place garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with EVOO, S&P, set on baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Watch carefully as you don’t want the lemon to burn, but you do want a little color. I thought I would have to pull the lemons out before the beets were done, but they finished at the same time, around 20 minutes. Continue roasting the garlic cloves packet for another 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. When cool enough to handle. Squish garlic out of cloves and chop/mash. Set aside.
  4. While the beets roast, get out your risotto cooking pan. Set heat to medium, add EVOO. Once heated, add onion slices, season with salt, and saute until soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Add fresh thyme and parsley.
  5. Add barley. Turn heat to high. Toast for at least 3 minutes until the pan is dry and the aroma is nutty.
  6. Deglaze pan with wine or stock. Turn heat down to medium and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock. Continue adding stock after the liquid is absorbed until barley is cooked, adjusting heat as needed to keep things simmering. This took me about 5 cups of stock and about 50 minutes. I keep a separate pot of simmering stock, right next to my risotto pan. This helps keep the risotto simmering and cuts down on time.
  7. About halfway through the cooking process (judging by the amount of liquid you have leftover) add chopped beet greens to pan. Continue cooking.
  8. Just before serving, add roasted garlic into risotto. Distribute evenly. Season with S&P.
  9. To serve, ladle risotto into bowls or onto a plate. Top each serving with a slice of lemon and fresh chives and parsley.
  10. To eat, smush (the technical term) lemon into risotto. Discard rind. Devour.

Note: We are steering clear of dairy currently, but I bet this would be divine with some fresh goat cheese on top.

Second note: Sorry for the crappy pictures. Taken at night with iphone. Never a great combo.

Recipe: Savory Waffles

We have been on a little kick recently. A wonderful little kick. I know a lot of people are really into breakfast for dinner or better known as “brinner”. And as egg farmers…that happens a lot at our house. We put fried/poached eggs on top of everything, we do lots of baked eggs, egg curries, omelettes, frittatas, well you get the point. Our “go to” is clean-out-the-fridge-hash in a skillet with eggs on top. But I came across this recipe a while back and couldn’t get it out of my head. So, then I made it (slightly adapted). Here’s a pic from the night we DEVOURED them.


Don’t mind the March Madness and beers in the background. Honestly, I couldn’t believe this idea has never occurred to me. Farmer B LOVES waffles and grew up in a household that had waffles frequently. Even waffles stuffed with bacon. Genius. And I like waffles and everything, but I don’t know, they’ve just never been my thing…even with the bacon. But something about taking the sugar out and letting the egg yolk provide the moisture…well now I can get on board with that!

The possibilities are endless with savory waffles. Throw in what you have and make a meal out of it! My first attempt at a recipe was great. I threw in some chicken sausages and sun-dried tomatoes, topped it with some greens and an egg. Divine. Best part? Farmer B loves cooking waffles, so all I have to do is whip up a batter and relax.

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A couple quick notes. It’s a little dry. If you are looking for the same texture and moisture of a waffle soaked in syrup, this might not be for you. However, I was caught poking my egg open and drizzling it all over…and the thought crossed my mind to fry up another egg just to get more liquid gold on the waffle 🙂 These take a little bit longer to cook. We use a Belgian waffle maker and because the batter is so thick and dense, we leave it to cook for a few minutes longer than when the machine beeps at you telling you it’s done…sometimes we are smarter than the machines we make…sometimes…

Let us know if you fall in love with savory waffles, too!


Savory Waffles: Chicken Sausage, Sun-dried Tomatoes with a Green Salad and Egg on Top!


  • 2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry, next time I want to add some ground flax)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (kefir or a milk sub if you’re dairy free, almond milk worked great the last round I tried)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 chicken sausage links (I used one with apple in it) and okay it turned out to be 2 1/2 links that made it into the batter, but I swear Farm Baby helped)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated (I put them in a bowl and cover with water, place in microwave for 1 minute, let stand for about 5 and then drain)
  • 3 green onions, sliced or minced
  • 3 cups of mixed baby greens (we had swiss chard, arugula, spinach) tossed lightly with lemon juice and EVOO
  • 2 eggs, fried gently or poached over easy


  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Beat together eggs, butter, and milk until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients and gently mix together. Fold in the sausage, tomatoes, and onion.
  4. Grease the waffle iron, we use butter in these parts, but spray would do the trick. Pour batter into pre-heated waffle iron, close.
  5. Wait for the beep or follow the directions of your waffle-maker. Again, these are pretty thick, so we like to cook ours a minute or so longer than usual.
  6. Serve with the greens and the eggs on top.

Fall Root Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Menu: This bad boy only needs a beverage. It was plenty of food. The boys had some Sam Adams Oktoberfest and I had Roots Cab Sav, delightful!

Music: We were entertaining a guest, so I just threw on Avett Brothers Pandora. I love using Pandora when entertaining, so you’re not constantly getting up to change CD’s, records, playlists, etc. It was a perfect, easy going blend for a quintessential Fall meal!

This meal was beautiful! I had bought (along with the rest of the world) the Living Social deal for Whole Foods a while back. I was up in Greenville so I decided to stop in and cash out my coupon. I never go to Whole Foods with a shopping list. You end up spending a ba-zillion bucks (yes, that is an exact figure). I go to Whole Foods to grab a few things that grab my attention and then stop elsewhere to round out a meal. The first thing I saw when I walked in was these beautifully ugly organic purple sweet potatoes from a nearby farm in NC (the dark looking potato between the sweet potato yam and parsnips). Then I remembered this recipe and set out grabbing lots of root vegetables and what I would need.

See the first blooms of Zinnias from our garden!

The veggies with lots of olive oil and herbs waiting to be roasted. Isn’t the purple just beautiful? The purple sweet potato tasted just like a sweet potato. I didn’t pick up any differences, except in the spots that I didn’t fully get the skin off, I noticed some very bitter bites. The skin was very thick and gnarly. 

The browned, caramelized, yummy veggies. They also go by the name of “Fall in a Bowl”. As BJ said, I could just eat that right there!

I could have also cut the biscuits a bit thicker. They had great flavor, but didn’t rise well as I used whole wheat pastry flour. 

I would make a few changes upon making this again. First of all, I would add mushrooms to the béchamel. Few a few dried mushrooms, rehydrated, then chopped into the base of the bechamel would really round out the earthiness of the dish. Second, I didn’t add wine, as I didn’t have any on hand. If you don’t, I would suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice or something to brighten the flavors. That was missing from my dish. Third, I went with turnip because I couldn’t find a celery root. I would most definitely go with celery root if given the option. Man, just writing all those changes really makes me want to make this dish again soon!

I hope you enjoy this dish on a nice chilly night soon! Let me know how it turns out!

Fall Root Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit Topping


  • About 1 lb. brussels sprouts, stem cut, outer leaves trimmed, and halved
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces*
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces*
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces*
  • 1 rutabaga, celery root, or turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces*
  • EVOO
  • S & P
  • 2-3 tspn. Herbes de Provence (or dried thyme, I had this on hand)
  • 1 tspn. sage
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • Big splash of white wine or sherry, optional
  • Pinch of nutmeg, thyme, cayenne
  • Unbaked sweet potato biscuits (Recipe below)
  • You could always make this with meat, just throw chicken in to roasted veggies and combine with béchamel. 
  1. Heat oven to 425. Toss all the chopped veggies with ample amounts of EVOO, S & P and dried herbs. Spread into one layer on multiple baking sheets. Put into oven and roast. Open and stir every 20 minutes or so. They are done when your kitchen smells delicious and veggies are brown in spots and tender in the middle. Remove from oven, set aside. Keep oven on!
  2. In a saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion. Saute until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic. Saute for a minute. 
  3. Add flour to onion mixture. Stir until fully incorporated and cooked, about 2 minutes.
  4. Next, get ready to whisk in the milk! Go very slowly at first, incorporating the milk by a 1/4 cup at a time or so. Whisking completely into the flour and then adding more. This helps prevent lumpy béchamel!
  5. Add wine if using, remaining herbs, and S & P to taste. 
  6. Combine veggies and béchamel. Top with unbaked sweet potatoes biscuits, arranging them to your heart’s desire. 
  7. Put into oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the biscuits are puffy a light browned on the top. 
  8. Let rest for a few minutes and then devour. 
*If using homegrown veggies or organic from a trusted source, skip the peeling and just give a nice scrub. The skins always contain the best nutrients!
Sweet Potato Biscuits
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (definitely peeled here)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry, as expected they didn’t rise as well)
  • 1 TB. brown sugar 
  • 2 1/2 tspn. baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn. baking soda
  • 1/2 tspn. salt
  • 7 TB cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup cold buttermilk or yogurt
  1. In a small pot, cover sweet potatoes with water, bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are very tender. Drain well, then smash up with a fork. Reserve 3/4 cup of mashed potato and let it cool.
  2. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through salt). Whisk to combine. 
  3. Press small pieces of butter into dry ingredients by squishing each piece in flour mixture. Then combine all the dough with your hands. It will resemble very course sand. Alternately, this can be done with a pastry cutter or food processor. 
  4. Stir in buttermilk and sweet potato mash until thoroughly combined.
  5. Place dough onto generously floured surface. Knead a few times until you have a nice consistency. 
  6. Roll dough out into about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into biscuits, however you please. I used a drinking cup, but you could use fun cookie cutters, squares, whatever!
  7. Place on pot pies or bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo for a "Big Chill" kinda night

Music: Comfort food = comfort music. Jammed out to “The Big Chill” soundtrack while cooking up this meal.  We have the soundtrack on vinyl, ohhh yea. And for a simple and easy recipe like this…it makes dancing easy to do in the kitchen. If you can listen to The Big Chill and NOT dance…well…I don’t think we should be friends anymore. 
Menu: One bowl meal. A dark beer would be an excellent addition.  Try 90 Shilling from O’Dells Brewery in Ft. Collins. 

There are many foods and ingredients that I’m a sucker for and I highlight them often in this blog.   Leeks, artichokes, risotto, Indian food, homemade pasta are on the top of my list.  Pumpkin is definitely on the short list.  The excitement of Fall/Winter is partially because I know there are many cans of pumpkin puree to come!  We always make pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, and this recipe has been officially added to our repertoire.  

I’ve heard roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  However, a good friend of ours visited a while back who’s a pastry chef back in Baltimore (what up Doug!) and he says I gotta give it a try. Maybe next year, I will tackle my very own pumpkin!

This is a simple, quick, and super delicious weeknight meal.  Hope you enjoy 🙂

Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo 
Adapted from Rachel Ray


  • EVOO
  • 1 lb. bulk chorizo (this is also good with Soyrizo if you’re feeling a veggie night)
  • 1 onion (red or yellow), chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup, black beans cooked (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 tspn. ground cumin
  • S & P
  •  2 cups chicken or veg stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 14 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups quick cooking polenta
  • Fresh or dried thyme, to taste (about 1 1/2 tspn. fresh, and 1/2 tspn. dried and crushed)
  • 2/3 cup mild, creamy cheese (monterey jack, mild cheddar, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro, for garnish and optional


  1. In a large skillet, heat EVOO and add chorizo.  Cook and crumble until almost cooked all the way through.Scoot to side of pan.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper to open side.  Saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes on medium heat. 
  3. Incorporate meat and onion mixture.  Add beans, S & P, and cumin.  Allow beans to heat through, set aside.  Taste mixture at the point and add seasonings, if needed.  I get my chorizo bulk and sometimes it comes a little bland, so naturally, I add a little cayenne here 🙂
  4. While meat mixture cooks, heat stock and milk to a boil.  Add pumpkin puree.
  5. When the liquid reaches a simmer again, gradually whisk in polenta.  Continue to stir until fully incorporated and cooked about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn heat off polenta and add cheese and thyme.  Stir to incorporate.  
  7. In a bowl, pile a heap of polenta.  Top with chorizo mixture.  Garnish with seeds and cilantro if desired. 
  8. Devour.