Dairy Farmers of Canada

Herbed Barley Bean “Risotto”

Our dietitians' favourite

Risotto, the creamy Italian rice dish, gets a fibre boost when you use barley in place of white rice. Add savoury vegetables, legumes, herbs and cook the barley in milk and you’ve got a main course that is oh-so-satisfying and good for you, too.

  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cooking: 45 min - 50 min
Yields 4 Servings
herbed barley bean risotto


  • 2 cups (500 mL) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk divided
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 stalks celery sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, herbes de Provence or Italian herb blend)
  • 3/4 tsp (3 mL) each, salt and pepper, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pot or pearl barley
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) cooked or drained and rinsed canned unsalted Romano or red kidney beans
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped fresh or frozen green beans, thawed
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) white or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh basil or parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) Parmesan
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In a saucepan or in a large microwave-safe measuring cup, combine broth and half of the milk. Heat over medium heat on the stove-top, or on Medium-High (70%) power in the microwave, for about 5 minutes or until steaming. Cover and keep hot.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, dried herbs, and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add barley and flour; stir to coat well.

Stir in hot broth mixture. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until barley is almost tender. Add a little more of the milk if necessary to keep barley moist.

Meanwhile, heat remaining milk until steaming.

Stir Romano beans, green beans and remaining hot milk into barley. Cover and simmer, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until barley is tender and green beans are tender-crisp. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the pot at a steady simmer without boiling. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Drizzle in vinegar, stirring to combine. Stir in half of the basil or parsley. Season to taste with up to 1/4 tsp (1 mL) more salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with remaining basil or parsley and Parmesan.


If using a store-bought broth, look for a low-sodium ready-to-use version or use one with no salt added for an even lower sodium dish.

To cook beans from dried, you’ll need to soak 3/4 cup (175 mL) dried beans overnight, then cook according to package directions until tender. If using canned beans, you’ll need a 14 oz (400 mL) can or about three-quarters of a 19 oz (540 mL) can. Look for those with no salt added or as low in sodium as possible. Strain the liquid from the beans and rinse under cold, running water, then drain well.

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Nutritional information

Per serving
Energy: 393 Calories
Protein: 20 g
Carbohydrate: 65 g
Fat: 7 g
Fibre: 15.2 g
Sodium: 610 mg

Top 5 Nutrients

(% DV*)
Calcium: 23 % / 252 mg
Folate: 60 %
Magnesium: 51 %
Thiamin: 40 %
Vitamin B12: 40 %