Moments of inspiration strike you when you least expect it. For me, those moments usually sneak up on me when I am feeling satisfied…in good company and with a full belly. The weekend at The Big Traveling Potluck was rich with such moments. This event is most easily described as a food blogging conference, but it is different than other conferences in many ways.
Maggy Keet and Pam Anderson of Three Many Cooks, and Erika of Ivory Hut (and their incredible team) are the heart, minds and palates behind The Big Potluck conferences (one easy coast, one west coast). The three of them understand that these weekends are about camaraderie, sharing stories and ideas and good food. Let’s not forget the food!
Food blogging can be a solitary pursuit, snapping photos in one’s kitchen and living room (that’s me) and sitting in front of a computer for hours each day. While strong connections are often made with other food bloggers through online forums and social media, there is something really special about connecting with each other face-to-face, sharing stories of personal struggles and victories, and trading tricks of the trade.
Before diving into the recipe (and it is a good one, trust me), I want to share some of the photos from the weekend. There were so many more wonderful moments than what I captured here, but here’s a taste.
Diving in to breakfast and learning from Aran of Cannelle et Vanille.
Beautiful flower arrangements everywhere and copious amounts of Kerrygold cheese (heaven!)
Brian of A Thought for Food and me, and wearing my OXO tools on my arm
Sara of Go Gingham doing what bloggers do best
Megan of Country Cleaver topping off her salad
There are already of list of vegetarian recipes in our family’s repertoire that have become our favorites, such as this slow cooker recipe and this easy rice bowl. Now this quick barley risotto is going to take its own place of honor in the rotation.
I hear you saying, “This isn’t really risotto. Risotto can’t be quick and it doesn’t use barley.” You’re absolutely right.
Typically, risotto is made with arborio rice and is diligently stirred for half an hour or so, gradually adding small ladlefuls of broth. Yeah, I cheated. But the result was just as satisfying!
Barley is a powerhouse of fiber and protein, which makes it a healthier option than arborio rice. To make this recipe a better option for a weeknight, I used quick-cooking barley. Trader Joe’s makes a great 10-minute barley, but there are other brands available in supermarkets.
While most risotto recipes use chicken broth, I used a low-sodium vegetable broth to make this into a vegetarian dinner option. And I made a risotto faux-pas…I added all of the broth at once and simmered until the barley was tender.
Risotto just isn’t the same without a good handful of cheese added at the end. Instead of the traditional Parmesan, I grated some Kerrygold Dubliner cheese. That was a decision I will never regret! If you are a lover of Kerrygold’s Dubliner, you know what I’m talking about. The flavor is a mixture of nutty, sharp and sweet, and the texture allows it to melt beautifully into the toothy barley, blending perfectly with the sauteed mushrooms and sugar snap peas.
There is a reason that Kerrygold cheeses and butters are so good. The cows that provide the milk for the products are grass-fed, which means that the milk is high in beta-carotene, which is why Kerrygold products have that distinctive rich golden color. And the flavor says it all.
Other vegetarian recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Grilled Vegetable Wrap with Hummus
Cookin’ Canuck’s Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Cheese & Breadcrumb Topping
Foodiecrush’s Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna Soup
Oh My Veggies’ Mexican Baked Polenta with Salsa Beans & Sauteed Veggies
Eats Well With Others’ Vegetarian Pho
- 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed & thinly sliced
- 4 oz. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed & cut in half (about 1 ½ cups)
- ¼ cup chopped shallots
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1⅓ cup quick-cooking barley
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the shiitake and crimini mushrooms and cook until tender and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
- Using the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the shallots and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for 15 seconds.
- Add the vegetable broth, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until the barley is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the barley from the heat, and stir in the Kerrygold cheese, mushrooms and sugar snap peas. Season to taste and serve.
Disclosure: Kerrygold Cheese sponsored this post, and sponsored me to go to The Big Traveling Potluck. All opinions are my own.