Black Lentil and Barley Risotto with Asparagus

Black lentil and barley risotto

A few weeks ago a neighbor of mine sent me a link to a recipe for slow cooker Barley and Chickpea Risotto.  I sometimes use recipes as my inspiration to create a dish but more often than not, I think about what main ingredient I want to have in a dish and build from there.  What I liked about the barley and chickpea recipe is that it featured the barley acting as the risotto instead of Arborio rice.  I love subtle changes that make a big difference.  Barley is a wonderful whole grain with a chewy, nutty consistency; full of fiber and lots of heart healthy, cancer fighting minerals.  I had some barley in my pantry and thought about what other ingredients I had readily available to create a risotto.

I had some black lentils which I thought would be great to cook alongside the barley for many reasons.  I’ve posted about lentils before so I don’t want to be repetitive, but they are also a great fiber source as well as protein; all great for heart health, digestive health and lowering cholesterol.   Black lentils were also a good choice to pair with the barley because they can cook at the same pace and would be a great complement in flavor and texture.  Keep in mind my barley was sprouted which reduces the cooking time and retains the nutrients.  If the barley is not sprouted it can take between 60-90 minutes to prepare.

I needed some contrast to the dish for color and as I posted last week, asparagus is in season, and I am going to feature it as much as possible since I love it and it’s easy to prepare.  Along with some sweet peppers, shitake mushrooms, mild spices, all cooked in vegetable broth, this risotto is a fantastic, healthy side or main dish.  Basic risotto calls for butter and parmesan cheese; No butter needed when you use vegetable broth and I used a little parrano cheese instead of parmesan but this is optional (but SO good).  Prepare it and dig in!

Feed the wellness in you!

Black Lentil and Barley Risotto with Asparagus

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6


  • 1 cup of Barley
  • 1/2 cup of Black Lentils
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsp minced shallots
  • 5 sweet peppers
  • 1/2 cup of Shitake Mushrooms
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup of parrano cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp fresh dry thyme


  1. Sautee the garlic and shallots for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Barley, Black Lentils, 1 tsp sea salt and 3 cups of vegetable broth. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes then turn to low heat for 20 minutes.
  3. In another pan, sautee the sweet peppers and shitake mushrooms for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the asparagus, lemon juice and thyme. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Fold the asparagus mixture into the barley and black lentils with the remaining vegetable broth. Cook on low for 5 minutes then remove from heat.
  6. Mix in 1/2 cup of the parrano cheese and serve.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining parrano cheese on top.

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