A tasty and zesty main course starring the lightest of cereals 

Lemongrass Barlotto (3 of 1)In Italy we call farro what is most probably known to you as barley,  a nutty chewy whole grain very popular in northern Italy and mostly cooked into risotto-style primo (aka first course). Have you ever heard of Barlotto? The combo Barley/risotto translates into a constant stirring and the gradual addition of hot stock to the barley as it cooks. Just like a risotto.

I love the combination of grains and greens and I wanted to take advantage of being home alone to cook something light, wholesome and easy to make. The very first Broccoli and Lemongrass Barley Risotto you can find on the Web was born.

Lemongrass Barlotto (2 of 1)In southern Italian cuisine, as far as I know, barley is not popular. Don’t ask me why, all I know is that, just like polenta, farro belongs to the cold north. It must be because down there we’re too busy with pizza, pasta and ragu.

Whatever. Farro should be more popular everywhere in the world because, hold on tight, it’s high in protein and low in calorie. Farro has less calories than other cereals. It’s officially love ♥.

lemongrassbarlottoOf course, after reading about its nutritional content, I was craving a barlotto with greens on top. I added lemongrass for zesty tones, stir fried broccoli for crunchiness and thick Greek yogurt for creaminess and sharpness. But I wasn’t satisfied yet. What I also desperately wanted was to make this dish “good-looking”. How to make a barlotto looking as desirable as a pizza? You see I had higher expectation for this recipe. Making a dish look appetizing is almost as important as making it tasty. Also, you wouldn’t need to tell how good it is for you, the protein/nutrition story, you know…

To the point now. The secret, the beauty solution for this tasty dish is: a pinch of turmeric. Have I disappointed you? Turmeric notoriously acts on food as a sun tanning lamp does to the skin. Doesn’t this look as good as a pizza? …. uhm… I can almost visualize your face now. But hey! I’m not ready for miracles yet. I’m just getting somewhere where both pizza and barlotto coexist.

lemongrassbarlotto (1 of 1)

Broccoli and Lemongrass Barley Risotto


  • 1 1/2 cups 12oz broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 3 or 4 cups vegetable stock depending on how much liquid barley absorbs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 Tablespoon chili flakes
  • 4 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemongrass finely chopped


  • In a large pan heat olive oil, stir in barley and chopped lemongrass. Add ladleful at a time of stock to barley and stir constantly. When the broth is absorbed add more and repeat for 30 minutes or until barley is tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in another sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the broccoli florets and stir fry 5 minutes.
  • Add cooked broccoli to barley risotto with last stock ladle. Stir in parmesan, chili flakes, season with salt and pepper.
  • Keep stirring and let it dry for a couple of minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and incorporate the yogurt. Stir well. Serve with parmesan on top.

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  1. That is my kind of meal…I love cooking with grains and I love whole grain recipes. A risotto had been at the back of my mind and I love your lemongrass version. It looks very comforting and delish.

  2. I love farro – I had a mushroom farro ‘stuffing’ for Thanksgiving last year and it was so tasty! I’ve never heard of ‘Barlotto’, but I really love learning about your culture and the food terms you used in Italy! Grains & Greens are delicious together – what a genius ingredient – lemongrass?! I need to try lemongrass in my vegan risotto next time!