SPRING BARLEY RISOTTO

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From Patrice Johnson.

5 slices uncured bacon (about 6 oz.), diced

5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

• 1/2 c. dry white wine, divided

4 c. chicken or vegetable stock

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large shallot (about 3/4 c.), diced

• 1 c. pearl barley

• 1 tsp. tarragon

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• 1 c. frozen baby peas, thawed

1/2 c. Fontina cheese, grated, plus more for garnish

1/4 c. parsley, minced, for garnish

Directions

Cook bacon in large, deep skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until pieces are crisp. Stir frequently with wooden spoon to break up pieces and to cook evenly. Drain bacon; reserve 1 tbsp. of drippings. Do not clean skillet.

Return reserved drippings to skillet and add mushrooms; cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Add 1/4 cup wine to the skillet and continue cooking over high, and use spatula to scrape dark spots of fond from bottom of skillet. Reduce wine for about 3 to 5 minutes or until mushrooms have absorbed most of the liquid. Remove mushrooms from skillet and set aside.

In small saucepan bring chicken stock to a boil and then reduce burner to low heat; keep stock at a low simmer.

Add butter to clean large, deep skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until shallot is soft. Stir in the barley and cook, continuing to stir occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until the barley is coated with butter and appears glossy. Stir in tarragon, garlic, salt and pepper and then cook for an additional minute. Increase heat to medium high and stir in remaining 1/4 cup wine and simmer until wine is gone.

Keep heat at medium high, use a ladle to add about 1/2 cup stock to barley, stirring after the addition. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. Stir frequently. Continue in this manner, ladling stock and stirring the barley so that the mixture is consistently never soupy or dry.

Begin tasting the risotto about 30 minutes after the stock process has begun. Barley should be tender with a bit of bite; it may take as long as 45 to 50 minutes to reach this stage. When this stage is reached, stir in the peas and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon, mushrooms and their juices, and the cheese.

Garnish with parsley and the additional cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving of 6:

Calories 304 Fat 13 g Sodium 520 mg

Carbohydrates 35 g Saturated fat 6 g Calcium 85 mg

Protein 13 g Cholesterol 31 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 2 bread/starch, 1 lean meat, 2 fat.

BARLEY ARANCINI

Makes 16 to 18 balls.

Note: These barley balls are so rich that two per appetizer serving is a generous portion. Pair them with greens tossed in a tart vinaigrette to cut the richness. Halve the recipe or freeze leftovers and reheat in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and lighter than the traditional breadcrumb, which could be substituted. From Patrice Johnson.

• 2 eggs, beaten slightly

• 2 c. Spring Barley Risotto (see recipe), chilled

• 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

• 1 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs (see Note), divided

• 2 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 to 18 small cubes

•Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, risotto and 2/3 cup breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons). Press your finger into the center of each ball and insert 1 mozzarella cube into the middle, then pinch the risotto around the filling to enclose.

Place reserved panko in a shallow dish. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, roll in more breadcrumbs before frying.)

Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning frequently, for about 4 minutes or until golden-brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt.

Nutrition information per serving (2 balls):

Calories 215 Fat 13 g Sodium 250 mg

Carbohydrates 16 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 120 mg

Protein 9 g Cholesterol 54 g Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 medium-fat meat, 1½ fat.

TUNNBRÖD (THIN BREAD)

Makes 10 pieces.

Note: Tunnbröd — Swedish thin bread made of rye or barley flour and potatoes — is basically Swedish lefse. But unlike lefse, no special equipment is needed; just use your favorite rolling pin and a heavy pan or griddle. Also unlike lefse, this dough is easy to work with, and in fact the more you work with it the better is rolls out. Swedes serve this bread with cheese, herring or sausage. It makes a delicious breakfast wrap with sausage, cream cheese, a dollop of lingonberry preserves and mustard. Barley flour is available from local co-ops. Adapted slightly from the family cookbook of Dean Abrahamson of Minneapolis.

• 1 1/4 lb. cold, peeled, cooked, and riced russet potatoes

• 1 c. barley flour

• 1 tsp. salt

• White flour for rolling

Directions

Combine potatoes, barley flour and salt. Knead all ingredients together to form stiff dough. Divide dough into 10 pieces and roll into balls.

Roll out balls to be paper thin, about 8 inches, using plenty of white flour, as needed. Transfer to medium-hot dry frying pan or griddle. Fry on both sides until done, about 2 minutes each side. Transfer to cooling rack and keep covered with a towel. Serve within 24 hours or freeze.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 103 Fat 0 g Sodium 240 mg

Carbohydrates 23 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 10 mg

Protein 3 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch.

BARLEY COCONUT PUDDING

Serves 8.

Note: Try making this in a slow cooker overnight for an easy breakfast (setting at low for 6 to 8 hours). From Patrice Johnson.

• 1 c. pearl barley

• 2 (14 oz). cans coconut milk

2/3 c. dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, mango, pineapple and pear

• Juice and zest from 1 small lime

• Vanilla bean, halved and seeded

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 2 tbsp. brown sugar

• 1 tsp. ginger

• 1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom

• Pinch of salt

• Half and half or pineapple juice

Directions

Rinse raw barley in cold water until the water runs clear. Place in large pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Drain barley and return it to pot. Add coconut milk, dried fruit, lime juice, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, sugar, ginger, cardamom and salt. Bring to simmer; cook covered on low until barley is tender and milk thickened, about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally (some barley may take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes to cook, so check for tenderness at about 30 minutes).

Remove cover during final 10 minutes of cook time and add half and half or pineapple juice if pudding becomes dry. Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Garnish with lime zest, toasted grated coconut and nutmeg.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 330 Fat 21 g Sodium 33 mg

Carbohydrates 36 g Saturated fat 18 g Calcium 16 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 6 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, 1 other carb, 4 fat.