Spring Barley Risotto

time  30 min | serves  2

By Addie Royce | Photos by Caroline Royce

There is a very small patch of asparagus that my aunt and uncle planted a couple decades ago that sits right next to my garden. The stalks that come up in late spring make for a great fresh garden snack. On the off chance that a few stalks make it home, I can make this risotto. If this were the dead of winter, I would be loading up with butter and extra parmesan cheese, but for spring, I like to keep it light. 



  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup pearled barley

  • Low sodium chicken stock

  • 2 cloves garlic, diced

  • 3-4 stalks asparagus, roughly chopped

  • 1 handful spinach

  • Parmesan cheese


In a medium stock pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer. 

In a separate heavy bottomed pot, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add barley to the pan and stir, toasting it slightly. Add a small ladle of heated chicken broth, stirring constantly, until all the stock is absorbed. Repeat one ladle at a time until barley has completely cooked. Toss in asparagus, spinach and garlic. Continue to cook until spinach is wilted and asparagus is tender, adding more stock if necessary. Add a generous shaving of parmesan before serving.