Low Glycemic Tomato Risotto

This recipe really belongs more on a site called “Leaves and Lettuce” than “Fritos and Foie Gras.”

But I am posting it in tribute to my mom.

My mom who has taken me to an infinite number of bakeries, treated me to luxurious lunches, and taught me the fine art of latke making.

My mom who has, in the last few months, become a smoking fox. She has gone on a low glycemic index diet plan to ensure that she stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Low glycemic means that the food has a very low natural sugar content so your blood sugar doesn’t spike. It was really just to get her cholesterol in check, but as a side effect, she has gone from regular cute mom to hot mom.

She is basically one step away from Regina’s mom in Mean Girls.

Except that we never had a dog.

In her efforts to eat healthily,  she invented a few awesome recipes, and this is one of my favorites. It is vegan, low calorie, high fiber, and really tasty. It takes awhile to prepare but makes enough for massive leftovers. It is even better if you add some cheese, but I guess that takes away from the whole low calorie thing.

I’m going to ignore that and suggest you top it with cheese anyway.

Low Glycemic Tomato Risotto


1 cup each bulgur, pearl barley, and quinoa

2 large portabello mushroom caps, cleaned and diced

1 bunch kale, cleaned and chopped/shredded

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tbsp. red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. pepper

1. Toss the mushrooms, kale, broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and pearl barley into a very large stockpot. Put it over high heat and let it boil for at least 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender. It takes a long, long time to cook, but when it is plump and al dente, you are ready for the next step.

2.Add the other grains and seasonings and let cook for half an hour more, or until the little tail of the quinoa has erupted and the pearl barley is very tender.

By this time, the liquid should have almost all been absorbed, resulting in a thick risotto-esque texture. Taste for seasonings, and…

3. Serve.

This is shockingly tasty for being so easy (though time-consuming) and so frighteningly healthy. The onions are very mild, letting the minerally flavor of the kale and the sweet tomatoes come through. The garlic becomes soft and sort of mushes into the risotto, as mild as roasted garlic but without any of the overlying sweetness of it. The soft hunk of tomato and the meaty mushrooms rally make this feel substantial, adding an indescribably savory umami factor. The 3 grains release enough gluten to make the dish thick and rich – the nutty quinoa, soft pearl barley, and hearty bulgar each play its role. This would be great with some roasted chicken or meatloaf, of is swell all on its own with a little side salad. Though it would be great with some cheese, that isn’t how my mom eats it.

And she’s looking so good that you might want to follow her lead.