This risotto recipe is a great way to finish off your day with a decadent dinner that is only a fraction of the cost. The barley makes the dish heartier, and the peas make it healthier. Also, you don’t have to follow Leanne Brown’s twist on risotto; you can make it your own by adding different veggies or switching up the cheese.

1 cup pearl barley
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon zest and juice
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup ricotta
salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices bacon, chopped

Serves 3


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.


2. Pour the barley onto a rimmed baking sheet, spreading it into an even layer. Place it in the oven and bake until the barley is golden brown, 10 minutes. 


3. Place a small pot over low heat and add the broth. It just needs to heat up and stay warm.

4. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.


5. Add the toasted barley and lemon zest, then stir to coat with the butter and onion. Add a ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of broth and stir. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding another ladleful of broth whenever the barley looks like it needs it. Reduce the heat if you notice the broth disappearing quickly.


6. At the 20-minute mark you should have used up about 4 cups of broth. Add the frozen peas and another 1/2 cup broth. Stir until the broth is absorbed. 


7. Try a piece of barley to see whether it is fully cooked. There should be no hard center and the barley should be soft, but still chewy and whole. If the barley is not quite cooked, add the remaining ½ cup broth, stir, and keep cooking. 


8. Once it’s ready, add the lemon juice and ricotta and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Top with chopped bacon.