Filled with the flavors of spring and summer, this corn, asparagus, and basil barley risotto has bits of comfort in every bite.
corn, asparagus, and basil barley risotto

Nothing like kicking off a Monday with a chest x-ray.

Because your doctor thinks you have PNEUMONIA.

And this was after you told him you ran a half marathon on Sunday.

Now, I’m pretty crazy…but I don’t think even I could have pulled off running a half marathon with pneumonia. That just seems like common sense.


Anyway, before we get our panties in a bunch, I doΒ NOT have pneumonia.

Just pretty severe bronchospasms that are triggering a symphony of wheezing inside my chest.

Needless to say, it was a pretty interesting half marathon. The gory details of which I will spare you, except to say that if it weren’t for the.boy running with me for 90% of the race and various Team in Training coaches jumping in to run with me every mile or so (the.boy tells me I looked pretty bad), I wouldn’t have made it. There were many points at which I felt like I was going to melt into a puddle of tears on the ground, but I didn’t. Cheers to that.


This risotto is what you should cook when you don’t feel like cooking. Seems counter intuitive because everyone and their mother will tell you that risotto requires constant attention and stirring, but I beg to differ. A stir every four or five minutes or so should suffice, and eventually it becomes muscle memory so that you barely even have to think about it. And then at the end, you have a delicious meal, filled with bits of spring and summer and bright fresh flavor. I can’t promise that it will cure what ails you (case in point) but it will certainly make you feel much better than the takeout you were thinking of ordering.

No chest x-ray necessary. Pinky swear.

Corn, Asparagus, and Basil Barley Risotto
Filled with the flavors of spring and summer, this corn, asparagus, and basil barley risotto has bits of comfort in every bite.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup barley
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1½ cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup basil, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  1. Combine the vegetable broth and water in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onion and a pinch of salt, and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add in the white wine and cook until almost totally evaporated.
  3. Pour 2 cups of the heated broth mixture into the pot with the barley. Cook stirring frequently until almost evaporated. Then, add in the broth mixture 1 cup at a time, only adding more after the rest has almost evaporated, stirring frequently. Repeat until barley is cooked through and tender.
  4. Add in the asparagus with a final cup of the broth mixture, simmering until almost evaporated. Stir in the corn and cook until heated through.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
An Eats Well With Others Original
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl


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75 Responses to Corn, Asparagus, and Basil Barley Risotto

  1. I cannot get enough asparagus these days…always looking for new ways to incorporate it into our meals! This looks awesome.
    Feel better soon!

  2. Oh no. I’m sorry to hear about the race. I hope the wheezing stops soon. The rissoto looks great!

  3. Aww get better lovely!! At least you don’t have pneumonia?! Yuck!…and YUM to the recipe, haha. xx

  4. This lovely barley risotto is on the menu now, I think. Take care of yourself, dearie. =)

  5. you just one upped anyone out there who has ever cooked risotto before. You not only used barley but the addition of the veggies make it spring like and not heavy at all! Love it

  6. Oh noo! That is awful–I’m sorry the race wasn’t so fun! I wish we could have met up!!

    This risotto looks amazing! Perfect combination of spring and summer flavors.

  7. Cassie says:

    Risotto is one of my favorites. I love this spring version, Joanne. I definitely need to try barley risotto!

  8. Hope you are feeling better and congrats on finishing the marathon. Love the idea of using barley to make risotto!

  9. This looks sensational – i love pesto in everything, but especially risotto!

  10. pheww so glad its not pneumonia. you go girl, so proud of you πŸ™‚

  11. This sounds really good. A comfort food for a day like today that we on the East Coast are experiencing. Pinning.

  12. Leah Davis says:

    Congrats on finishing the race!!!! And I hope you feel better soon!!

    I have never tried to make risotto – I think I’ve been scared off by all of the failures of Top Chef contestants – but this is making me want to give it a go!! Sounds delicious with all of the fresh spring veggies!

  13. SallyBR says:

    I had no doubts you would cross that finish line, so major congrats! You don’t give up easily. You don’t give up. Period

    I have quick cooking barley, and I have pearled barley – I think the quick cooking would make this dish ready in 15 minutes, maybe it won’t be as luscious as the pearled variety, but…. something to consider on a busy evening

    I need to re-visit a recipe from Fine Cooking I used to make all the time, it had spinach, quick cooking barley, and shrimp… it was super tasty, but I totally forgot about it until reading your post today

  14. What a GREAT idea to make risotto with barley! Soooo healthy and creamy, best of both worlds! Sooooo amazing that you made it through the half marathon without feeling well! That is truely amazing! Congrats on the amazing accomplishment!

  15. You’re a rock star to be able to run a half marathon even with bronchospasms, whereas I would cry just by lying on the couch with a cough. Maybe I need to eat more of this risotto to build up my BA-ness to your level. That’s what I’ll tell myself anyway as I shovel it down. πŸ˜‰

  16. Lisa says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the asparagus season here. Love that you used barley in this comforting dish. I made a mushroom soup with barley just the other day. Take care and get well soon.

  17. Hooray for not having pneumonia, and totally badass for running the half while feeling so crappy! Hope you’re feeling better soon! I loooove non-rice risotto, and I’m totally digging to veggie combo in this dish.

  18. I’ve never had barley *hides in food blogger shame* unless we’re counting barley wine… I’ve definitely had a few glasses of that! In my mind, it was weird and icky, but this looks so incredibly delicious! Btw, not that you wish you had pneumonia, but how incredibly bad ass would you have felt if you found out you’d ran a half marathon with pneumonia?

  19. Shashi says:

    You r pretty amazing to have run a half feeling the way you did! Way to go Joanne!

  20. LOVE barley risotto. All new variations gratefully recived!

  21. Meg says:

    I’ll admit to always being too afraid to attempt risotto (all those people talking about burning and stirring, indeed!), but you make it sound far less intimidating. This looks delicious, and I’m so glad you don’t have pneumonia. Hope you feel better soon!

  22. cheri says:

    Love this combination, asparagus is still going like gangbusters here in AZ so I need all the recipes I can get my hands on. Thanks! Can’t believe you finished the half marathon and you were wheezing to boot, your a pretty determined person!

  23. Julia says:

    So happy to hear your chest is pneumonia-less!!! Congrats on your halfie, my love! You are totally inspiring me to sign up for an event…I’ll let you know if I stop being such a pansy and follow through with my chitter chatter.

    Your risotto. BOMB!

  24. Monica says:

    I’ve been cooking risotto with whole grains, too. I did barley with mushrooms and edamame recently. Last night, I made farro risotto with asparagus, peas, and ham. I love your rendition here with the corn. I think a touch of sweetness from corn or peas goes so well with these these whole grains. Looks superb! And glad you do not have pneumonia!

  25. Love risotto! This spring version is perfect!

  26. sandra says:

    gotta love that muscle memory!

    sorry to hear about all your woes. hoping you are feeling better!! you are kind of amazing.

  27. If anyone could run a half marathon with pneumonia I might actually start believing in God! Get well soon!!!

  28. Pam says:

    You are amazing! I curl up on the couch when I am sick. You? You run a half marathon! Glad you made it without ending up in the hospital.

    The barley risotto looks fantastic.

  29. Karly says:

    Love all the veggies you packed in there. This looks amazing!

  30. Courtney says:

    This looks amazing, just like something you’d want when you’re in need of comfort food. I hope you feel better soon, friend!

  31. You’re lucky you didn’t collapse, crazy! Go rest! And pass me some risotto…

  32. Nuts, Joanne. I really wanted to use the joke that you don’t have walking pneumonia, you have running pneumonia! πŸ˜‰
    Joking aside, take care of yourself, even if it is bronchospasm and not pneumonia.

  33. Kathryn says:

    You poor thing! I can’t believe you managed to complete your half marathon – you definitely deserve a lot of quality time on the sofa recovering now and lots of lovely veggies to put you on the road to recovery. Hope you feel better soon!

  34. Susan says:

    i hope you are resting and taking care of yourself! There is nothing worse than that wheezing cough that won’t go away. Stay home and enjoy some risotto. Especially today, this is not going out weather.

  35. Emma says:

    Poor you! Major kudos for keeping going despite the sickness!
    This risotto looks like it might have healing powers πŸ˜€ Yum.

  36. Ugh, I’m sorry you were feeling so crappy for the half but glad to hear that you made it. Hope you get lots of R&R this week and are feeling better in no time!

  37. I have been wanting to make barley risotto but only that I didn’t have a recipe. thanks for sharing this one…it sounds perfect and my family is going to love this.

  38. Kate says:

    bronchospasms with coughing? I hope not, because those are the worst! The endless cycle of coughing, irritation, more coughing. Thumbs up for it not being pneumonia though!

  39. P says:

    You are one tough cookie :)! Get some serious rest, and curl up with numerous bowls of this amazing-looking dish πŸ˜‰

  40. debbie says:

    Glad you don’t have pneumonia. This risotto is something that looks really good and I am glad you said it wasn’t difficult. Never made risotto before so this might be a good one to start with.

  41. Feel better soon! I love risotto so this dish is calling my name. πŸ™‚

  42. Susan says:

    My gosh, I hope you’re feeling better! Your risotto must have tasted very comforting indeed. Great idea to add the corn in this classic!

  43. This is beautiful! So hope you are feeling better, love!

  44. Shannon says:

    oh man, i’m glad you don’t have pneumonia, but hope you’re feeling better soon! this definitely screams of summer, yum πŸ™‚

  45. Gah! Stop wheezing and get healthy!! Tell those bronchioles to stop spasming πŸ˜‰ I love risotto and absolutely love this barley version…looks absolutely perfect for spring and summer. Which, by the way, can come any time as far as I’m concerned!

  46. Go you, keep fighting my friend though I am glad it is not pneumonia! Eat lots of this delicious risotto πŸ˜€

    Choc Chip Uru

  47. Christina says:

    O my goodness, hope you recover fast!

    I do have some barley waiting to be used πŸ™‚

  48. I can’t believe that you ran a half marathon when you were sick like that. I hope you are feeling better!! This risotto looks like it should have made you feel better. It looks yummy!

  49. Megan says:

    Hope you feel better! This looks wonderful. I just made a farro risotto for dinner and totally agree that the constant stirring is not necessary!

  50. Tahnycooks says:

    my in-laws own a asparagus garden like 15,000 plants of the fabulous stuff! I can’t wait to use some on this yummy looking recipe. I’m glad you’re feeling ok, great job on all your running!

  51. Get well soon, Joanne.
    Your barley risotto looks healthy and delicious.

  52. Wow. Congrats on finishing the half marathon. In that state, I’m not sure if I would want to step outside my house. I think I would just want to make this risotto all day. Because it does look super delicious!

  53. Krista says:

    You never cease to amaze me, Joanne. The goals you set and accomplish no matter what. XO

  54. Deena kakaya says:

    I’m not a fan of traditional risotto, feels to glutinous to me, so I’m sure I will enjoy your fresher, spring like version x

  55. Katerina says:

    You are lucky you didn’t faint during this marathon. Even though you don’t have pneumonia, bronchospasms are serious as well. This risotto looks absolutely delicious! Take care and get well soon my friend!

  56. Take care of yourself! No more exercise till your lungs are better πŸ™‚

  57. I’m so sorry to hear you’re sick – and were sick when running a half marathon to boot. Congratulations on finishing, that is an impressive feat even without coughing.

    This dish looks and sounds divine. If it doesn’t fix you, well…eat more!

  58. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love barley risotto and I’ve made it often. This is a very comforting dish and I can imagine you would have needed this and much more after that half-marathon. I admire you for persevering against great adversity. My Archie had pneumonia when he was 15 months old and nearly died from it. It’s very painful and very debilitating. I do hope you recover quickly xx

  59. Johanna GGG says:

    hope you are feeling better – sounds like an incredible achievement to finish the marathon

    love the risotto but for me it is not the easiest dish because I am never confident enough to leave it alone – sounds like you and risotto are best buddies and it doesn’t let you down

  60. Love the idea of barley as the risotto. And with all the veggies, make this one light not heavy at all.
    I hope you are feeling betterJoanne. Rest up!

  61. This looks amazing, Joanne! Love the idea of using barley for the risotto!

  62. Barley is my favorite grain for flavor. I love the simplicity of this dish. Congratulations on staying in the race.

  63. Stefanie says:

    OMG you are a champion! i would have been one of those people you see in marathon videos collapsing because their bodies just shut down. Go girl! But now that you “went girl” get some rest and relaxation. Oh and lot’s of comforting foods like this! I love barley, I never thought to make a risotto. Genius!

  64. Melissa says:

    Just wanted to let you know – made this last night and BOTH Michael and I thought it was delish (he’s quite picky so that’s saying something!) hope you feel better soon!!!

  65. Whew! Glad you don’t have pneumonia! Congratulations of running a half marathon!! That is so awesome. I have never done one and I think if I did I be the one they were scooping up on the pavement.
    This dish looks delicious! I love how you used barley instead of rice πŸ˜€

  66. Laura says:

    OK this is even better! My spring has been insane, I have not been reading other blogs as much as I want to be, and wow I have been missing some yummy stuff. Hope you are feeling better! I’d be wheezing for like 3 weeks if I ran a marathon lol…

  67. Eileen says:

    Oh man! I hope you feel better soon! (Or are feeling better already, since I’m so far behind on my blogs this week.) This risotto sounds like the ultimate comfort dinner when you’re feeling bad, though. Super herb and spring vegetable goodness!

  68. grace says:

    this looks really healthy, but delicious at the same time! i love the toothsome quality of barley and the other textures and flavors you’ve included are wonderful as well!

  69. Reeni says:

    Risotto is like the ultimate comfort food yet you managed to infuse lots of veggies into it in true Joanne style. I hope it helped you feel better! I’m sorry you had to run sick – you rule. πŸ™‚

  70. A barley risotto has been on my list of things I keep meaning to try since forever. This looks so insanely good you’ve convinced me that I need to try it sooner rather than later. Right now though in my part of the world it is more likely to be flavoured with mushrooms rather than corn and asparagus, but that’s not such a bad thing.

    So sorry you haven’t been well, but very pleased to know that at least you don’t have pneumonia xo

  71. Lori says:

    Sounds like a tough race. I hope you are feeling better! This dish looks like spring on a plate. I never tire of new ideas for using asparagus.

  72. Beth says:

    Hope you’re better soon. That sounds pretty miserable. But this risotto … this looks pretty wonderful.

  73. Alison says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for over a year, and recently made the commitment to go vegetarian, and the husband is joining me. I made this last night, and it was amazing!! Thank you so much for showing those of us newbies how it is done!

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