Fennel Barley “Risotto”


Sunday…the day we rest from yesterday and prepare for the next several tomorrows…

A day where the fridge gets organized, cleaned out and inventory taken in preparation for the Sunday grocery run.

This particular Sunday morning I woke up hungry and wanting something nutritious….nutritious?….what about the Scrambled Eggs and Corned Beef Hash with Ketchup or Eggs Benedict I usually crave for brunch on Sunday?   Apparently my body is telling me, “Oh, not today…think not upon the fault my father made”….wait, that’s Henry V…it’s just telling me, not today.   Vegetables… whole grains…let’s see what we have.

Fridge and pantry scans reveal fennel, carrots, barley…oh and let’s throw a little bacon in there, it is Sunday after all.  The resulting Fennel Barley “Risotto” was just what I needed.  A slight chew from the pearled barley provided a hearty texture, the fennel and carrots yielded sweet flavor, and the bacon and dijon added layered flavors.  So delicious and now I have lunch for tomorrow as well!


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bulbs fennel, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 6 oz bacon, medium chop
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, small chop
  • 1 ½ c pearled barley
  • 1 tbsp dijon, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp pepper (I use white)
  • 3 c chicken stock


  1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat until warm.  Add fennel and saute until just softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add bacon and saute 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel is very soft and bacon is cooked (it won’t be crispy).
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the carrots, barley, dijon and chicken stock, stir to combine.
  5. Raise heat slightly and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Serve with extra dijon on the side.

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