Barley Risotto With Crispy Kale

Feb 23, 2021

Prep Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 bunch curly kale, de-stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 8-9 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought pesto


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss kale, 2 tbsp olive oil, nutritional yeast (if using), and 1/2 tsp. salt into a bowl and massage until oil coats kale. Divide mixture into two baking sheets and bake, tossing and rotating halfway through, until kale is crispy, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a cast iron skillet, toast barley on medium low heat until golden brown for 5-10 minutes, making sure to toss every so often. Move barley to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan and add red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and continue to keep broth warm.
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  6. Add barley, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and 2 cups of broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, making sure to stir often until broth is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth, let barley absorb broth, but making sure to stir often. Add remainder of broth in 1/2 cup increments until you have a creamy mixture and barley is tender, about 45-60 minutes. Remove bay leaf once barley is cooked.
  7. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 tbsp butter or olive oil into barley mix. Remove from heat, stir in pesto, and half of roasted kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve barley risotto into bowls and top with rest of crispy kale.

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