Spinach and Barley Risotto

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: You can make the risotto ahead by a day, then reheat and toss in the spinach and cheese at the last minute. Use either hulless or pearled barley in this recipe. The pearled barley takes slightly less time to cook, but because the bran layer and hull have been removed, it is not considered a whole grain. Both pearled and hulless barley are available in the bulk section of natural food co-ops and in the pasta and rice aisles of supermarkets and grocery stores. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 tbsp. sunflower or olive oil

• 1 1/2 c. barley (hulless or pearled)

• ¼ c. minced shallots

• 1 small bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped

• 1/4 c. white wine

• 4 to 5 c. vegetable or chicken stock

• 3/4 to 1 lb. spinach, rinsed, dried and sliced into 1/4-in. strips

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh chopped parsley

• Generous pinch grated nutmeg

• 1/4 c. shredded aged Parmesan cheese

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat the oil in a large deep heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the barley, shallots and green onions, and toss to coat with the oil, cooking until the shallots become tender, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the wine, then the stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the barley to absorb the liquid as you stir. Cook until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes for the pearl barley and 40 to 45 minutes for the hulled barley.

Toss in the spinach, parsley and nutmeg, and stir. Then fold in the cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 290

Fat 8 g

Sodium 210 mg

Carbohydrates 46 g

Saturated fat 2 g

Added sugars 0 g

Protein 12 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 10 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, ½ medium-fat protein, ½ fat.