Known as orzotto in Italy, this is a delicious change from regular risotto. The orzotto would be great made in the early fall as well, when we can still get local zucchini. I have substituted leeks & peas for the zucchini & carrots too, adding a few tablespoons of snipped chives & perhaps a bit of fresh mint in the spring. The barley needs to be soaked for 8 – 12 hours, so do that on the morning you plan to make your orzotto.
6 First Course & 4 Main Course Servings
1 cup pearl barley
Approximately 7 ½ cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock** or purchased broth + extra 2 cups, in case orzotto needs to cook a bit ½ cup dry white wine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, ¼” dice
1 medium carrot, ¼” dice
¼ cup (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a bowl cover the barley with water by 2”. Soak for 8 – 12 hours. Drain in a colander, set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring broth to a simmer & keep it at a simmer, lid on. Finely chop onion; dice zucchini & carrots.
In a 5 quart heavy kettle, cook onion in 2 Tbsp. butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add the barley & the wine, stirring to combine. Add 2 cups of the simmering broth & cook at a slow boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until thickened & some broth is absorbed. Continue to add the simmering broth, 1 cup at a time & cook, stirring frequently, letting each addition be partially absorbed before adding the next, until about half the broth has been used, over a period of about 20 minutes. Stir in the zucchini & carrots, continue to cook, adding broth ½ cup at a time, in the same manner until barley is tender, about 20 minutes. Mixture will be a bit soupy but the barley should be mostly tender but not mushy, (just slightly al dente). If not, continue cooking, stirring longer until it is, adding more broth if necessary. This may take up 10 – 20 minutes longer. When done, stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, parsley & black pepper until incorporated; remove pot from the heat. Let orzotto stand 5 minutes before serving.
**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.