Thai Chicken Barley Risotto

Thai Chicken Barley Risotto Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green onions, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/4 cups red bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons chopped peanuts


Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onions and 1 tablespoon garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in barley, 1/4 cup cilantro, salt, black pepper, 1/2 cup broth, and jalapeños; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes).

Combine juice and next 5 ingredients (juice through curry paste); set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onions, 1 tablespoon garlic, lemongrass, and ginger; sauté 1 minute. Add chicken, bell pepper, and peas; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in barley mixture, juice mixture, and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon nuts.

    Instead of using Arborio rice to make risotto, use high-fiber pearl barley instead.  The Thai flavor comes from cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, and red curry paste, and the protein comes from the lean chicken in this satisfying one-dish meal.
  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Nutritional Information

Calories per serving: 434
Caloriesfromfat per serving: 26%
Fat per serving: 12.4g
Saturated fat per serving: 3.9g
Monounsaturated fat per serving: 3.7g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving: 3g
Protein per serving: 41.6g
Carbohydrate per serving: 37.4g
Fiber per serving: 7.8g
Cholesterol per serving: 96mg
Iron per serving: 3mg
Sodium per serving: 691mg
Calcium per serving: 65mg