This Plant-Based “Risotto” With Coconut Milk Is Everything Right Now

Image by Meg Doty / Contributor

Here at mbg, we’re all about Food With Benefits—whether those benefits save you money, time, or help heal your body. In our video series, we’ll show you how to make delectable recipes, each with a unique benefit. Whether it’s a dinner for four for under $5, these meals, snacks, and desserts will make inspire you and make your mouth water! Up today: a plant-based “risotto” with sustainable benefits.

It’s 2019, and a planetary health diet is a thing! Research experts around the world in agriculture, the environment, and nutrition confirmed what we knew all along—that eating more plants and less red meat will help halt issues like climate change and biodiversity loss and help keep life going on Earth for many generations to come.

Knowing that every trip to our grocery store is another chance to help protect our future, at the end of the day, we still (literally) have to get dinner on the table. So to make it easy, we’ve cooked up a swoon-worthy, weeknight-friendly dinner that uses one of our favorite versatile ingredients: coconut milk.

Not only is coconut farming relatively low impact compared to dairy farming, but scientists in the Philippines have found that coconut crops may also be able to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it deep in the soil—a sustainable farming practice that’s gaining traction with the growing regenerative agriculture movement. So Delicious makes one of our favorite coconutmilk beverages, and it was the perfect (and also incredibly yummy) thickener for this savory “risotto” with blood-sugar-balancing pearl barley. Watch the video and get the full recipe below! 

Low-waste tip: If you’re not planning on using the rest of your fresh herbs right now, don’t let them go bad! You can puree them and freeze them in an ice cube tray to toss into a soup, sauce, or one-pot meal for a hit of nutrient-dense flavor later. Or, simply chop them up and store them in a freezer for the next time you crave this recipe.

Pearl Barley “Risotto” 

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for finishing 
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 3/4 cups pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 cups So Delicious Original Coconutmilk Beverage, Unsweetened
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups frozen fava beans, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, optional 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
Method:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  2. Add the pearl barley and stir so every grain gets covered by the oil. This is a technique to make your grains cook nice and evenly. 
  3. Pour in wine and cook, stirring until the alcohol evaporates and the liquid is almost gone.
  4. Pour in 1 cup So Delicious Coconutmilk, lower the heat to medium low. Simmer for 4 to 6 minutes until the liquid is almost gone. season with salt and pepper. Add another cup of coconut milk, and keep stirring and simmering.
  5. Continue until the coconutmilk is gone and barley is al dente.
  6. Stir in fava beans, lemon zest, juice taste and adjust seasoning. 
  7. Before serving divide barley risotto into four bowl and garnish with mint, chives, pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

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