1 cup pearl barley
2 tb olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups grated beets, 4 to 5 baby beets
1/4 cup red wine (or pomegranate juice)
5 cups stock
1/2 cup parmesan
6 oz baby spinach
goat cheese or feta cheese, optional
heat the stock and keep it hot on low heat. in a saucepan, heat up 2 tb olive oil and saute the onion. when it's translucent, add the barley and toss to coat. cook for about 5 minutes to toast, then deglaze with the wine or juice. then ladle in about a cup of stock and stir. when it's absorbed, add another. when the second cup is absorbed, add the grated beets and cook a couple minutes. add all the remaining stock and simmer over low heat, covered, for about 40 minutes, until the barley is soft but still has a bit of bite. add the spinach and the parmesan and mix well. season to taste. remove from heat and serve immediately. top each serving with a few crumbles of goat cheese or feta, and a few chopped chives.
i had it both with goat cheese and feta, and i couldn't say which i liked best. the goat cheese melts on contact and when you stir it in it makes it impossibly creamy, like no other risotto i ever had. the feta melts well, too and provides an extra salty delicious undertone. try it both ways or without any cheese at all, it will still be creamy. as a bonus, it's quite decent reheated. most risottos don't fare well if not served immediately, but as i was the only taker i had to refrigerate it. on my next beet binge i'll try it cold, or room temp, with a handful of pomegranate seeds mixed in. just a hunch i'm having.