RECIPE: Broccoli Cheddar Barley Risotto

More than half of the food the average Trinbagonian eats is imported. This should come as no surprise since our twin isle’s annual food import bill is approximately $6 billion. By purchasing local, you funnel money back into our community and support its growth and sustainability for future generations. Our weekly column “In Season” features a sweet and savoury recipe for one readily-available ingredient, so you can take advantage of the vibrant bounty from farmers’ markets, local farm stands, and your own yard.


Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. It's a mean, green fighting machine packed with folate and Vitamins K and C, which builds collagen to form tissue and bones and help heal wounds. Actually, one cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange. Both cooked and raw, broccoli is extremely versatile and can be served as a side or the star. Remember that face you made when you were a child and your mom served you broccoli? Well, you'll have no trouble eating your vegetables—these recipes will change that.


Talk about easy, comfort food perfection! The word “creamy” may not be enough for this meal. Parmesan is classic for risotto, but we replaced it with sharp cheddar, so that each forkful has wonderful gooeyness. We used barley for the base and added broccoli and green peas for deep flavour and crunch. This one-pot masterpiece is suited for busy weeknights when things are hectic.


Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
1 medium broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 1⁄2 cups barley, dried
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock 1 cup white wine
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 teaspoon mustard, Dijon preferably 1 cup cheddar, grated
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1⁄2 cup green peas, frozen
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the florets (aka the tops) of the broccoli off, saving the stems for later. Cut the florets into bite-size pieces, wash and set aside.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add diced onion and stir until the onion is well coated. Cover and allow the onion to sweat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the barley to the onions and give it a quick stir. Add 1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock and turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow the barley to absorb most of the liquid, then add in the remainder of stock, stirring often.
  4. When all the stock is absorbed add white wine and water. Allow to simmer until absorbed.
  5. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, test the barley. It should be tender but a little chewy when finished cooking. Add a little water and allow to simmer if it's not tender. If finished, turn off the heat and stir in broccoli florets, mustard, grated cheese, salt and pepper while still the barley is still hot. Add in frozen peas and cover the pot. Allow the florets and peas to cook only using the residual heat from the barleyabout 5 minutes.
  6. Top with chopped parsley and serve this side dish warm with a protein of your choice.
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