cW Recipes: Roasted Vegetable Barley Risotto
This vegetable barley is cooked risotto-style but without the cheese and an abundance of cancer-fighting properties

I’m a big fan of barley. It’s naturally chock-full of fiber and is known to balance bacteria in the gut. Barley is also a great substitute for pasta. When I crave the heaviness of a pasta dish, barley is a clean and healthy alternative.

This barley dish is full of yummy flavors and cancer-fighting elements. What I love most about this comfort dish is its versatility. This can be a filling main meal when served alongside a salad and some steamed broccoli, or it can gracefully accompany salmon or white fish.

Serves 4

Recipe ingredients


Barley Risotto Ingredients:

  • 1 cup barley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¼ cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cremini or black oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups bone broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chiffonade
  • ¼ cup leek, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


Roasted Vegetable Ingredients:

  • ½ cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup sweet potato, chopped
  • ½ cup butternut squash, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 shallots, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. On a baking sheet, mix the chopped carrots, sweet potato, and butternut squash, shallots, thyme, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast until golden and soft, around 40 minutes.
  3. Sauté onion, remaining shallots, and pressed garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat until soft.
  4. Add mushrooms, thyme, turmeric, and ground black pepper. Cook until liquid from the mushrooms evaporates.
  5. Add 1 cup barley to pan. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  6. Add broth ¼ cup at a time, allowing the barley to soak up the broth for added flavor. Allow the barley and vegetables to simmer, stirring occasionally. Add more broth, if necessary, so the barley is fluffy and light. While simmering, add parsley, leek, and bayleaf. Simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour, until all liquid is absorbed and barley is soft.
  7. Remove from heat, mix in roasted vegetables, and serve. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving.


  • Use organic ingredients where possible.
  • This dish makes great leftovers. Add broth to the barley when reheating—the barley will absorb the liquid, making it fluffier.
  • I do not cook with any sugar, including natural ones like maple syrup. However, you can add 2 teaspoons to your veggies while roasting to give them a little sweetness.


sophie tsairis
(Y)our Stories

In Heaviness and Light

Sophie Tsairis’ doctors warned that her childhood cancer treatment could lead to early menopause, but every passing decade pushed this fact further from her mind. That is, until her early thirties, when she was forced to confront the reason behind a body and mind she was struggling to recognize.

Read More »
edward miskie
(Y)our Stories

The Survivor: Edward Miskie

Edward Miskie, a musical theater actor and the author of “Cancer, Musical Theater, and Other Chronic Illnesses,” learned a lot about the power of friendship and finding one’s purpose while undergoing treatment.

Read More »
(Y)our Stories

Making Waves

Nathan Adrian’s lifetime of competitive swimming prepared him for many challenges, but facing testicular cancer was a plunge that the Olympic swimmer and medalist never thought he’d take.

Read More »
(Y)our Stories

The Art of Slowing Down

When cW columnist Jessica Walker went on an overseas excursion with her husband after his cancer diagnosis, she learned the small moments of joy are just as momentous as those that seem larger than life.

Read More »
Ask the Cancer Coach

What Comes Next – Spring 2021

In this issue’s column, cW’s resident cancer coach Mirela Kopier explores the importance of living well and being your own advocate beyond conventional means.

Read More »