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Coconut Curry Barley Risotto

Tangy, sweet and spicy flavours create this creamy risotto with a barley base.  I first came across this idea in from a recipe in a Cooking Light magazine. This dinner comes together easily with a purchased rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil divided
  • 1 red bell pepper julienne
  • 1 cup snow peas trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 green onions chopped - green and white parts divided
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup uncooked pot barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro divided
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (or rotisserie chicken works well)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped lightly salted peanuts
  • kosher salt to taste


  • Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add red peppers and snow peas and stir-fry until tender crisp. The snow peas should hold a bright green colour. Remove vegetables onto a plate and reserve.
  • In the same pan add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil and stir fry the white portions of onions and garlic for 1 minute.
  • Stir in barley, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 cup broth and bring to a boil.
  • Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.
  • Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next. This step will take approximately 15 minutes and barley should be slightly al-dente. Use only 2 1/2 cups of broth unless more is needed to reach the al-dente consistency.
  • In a small bowl combine lime juice and next 6 ingredients (brown sugar through ginger); set aside.
  • If making ahead add chicken, peppers, snow peas, coconut milk and juice mixture to the barley. Stir mixture and cover.
  • At home reheat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Season with salt if needed. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and green onions. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon peanuts. If you have extra limes you can also use a wedge as a garnish.