Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto

This Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto is an easy, quick, and vegan take on classic risotto that is perfect for summer! Tender cooked barley is drenched in a creamy dairy-free avocado sauce bursting with fresh herbs like basil and brightened up with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. This is the perfect fresh and healthy plant-based lunch or dinner and is easily made oil-free! Serve this easy vegan risotto with our lemon pepper tofu cutlets for a full meal.

This Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto is an easy, quick, and vegan take on classic risotto that is perfect for summer! Tender cooked barley is drenched in a creamy dairy-free avocado sauce bursting with fresh herbs like basil and brightened up with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. This is the perfect fresh and healthy plant-based lunch or dinner and is easily made oil-free! Serve this easy vegan risotto with our lemon pepper tofu cutlets for a full meal. 


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Raise one hand if you love risotto.

Raise another hand if you have no patience to actually MAKE traditional risotto. Me too, friend. Me too.

That’s why we LOVE this Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto. 

It’s not ACTUAL risotto, but it gives you that vibe without all the fuss. Make it once, and I swear you’ll be planning this fresh and tasty plant-based meal every single week!

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Ingredients in Quick Vegan Avocado Risotto

You only need 9 plant-based staple ingredients to make this easy vegan avocado risotto. 

Obviously, you’ll need some pearled barley. You can find quick-cook versions of this or just make it ahead of time to make night-of dinner prep as easy as possible. If you don’t have barley, you can sub other large grains like pearled couscous! I would stay away from softer, smaller grains like quinoa or the small couscous though.

Creamy Avocado Sauce Ingredients

Fresh spinach + basil – De-stem them, but there’s no need to shred because we’ll be blending them up completely. If you don’t have one of these ingredients, feel free to use all of one or the other.

Nutritional yeast – This is a plant-based pantry staple that adds a nutty cheesy flavor to our sauce. It’s not the same thing as the yeast you use to make bread. Go ahead and omit it if you don’t have it. You may want to add a touch of ground mustard instead!

Fresh garlic – You can also use minced garlic if you don’t have fresh.

Sea salt – Regular table salt will work too.

Olive oil – Feel free to omit this if you’re oil-free or don’t have it. You can also use melted refined coconut oil or avocado oil. This just adds a little extra creaminess to our sauce.

Full-fat coconut milk (from the can) – You can use any plain unsweetened non-dairy milk you’d like, but we find full fat coconut milk will give you the creamiest results. To avoid a heavy coconut flavor, make sure the brand of coconut milk you’re buying is completely unsweetened.

Avocados – For the creamiest results, wait to use your avocados until they’re nice and ripe (soft to the touch but not squishy).

Lemon juice – A hefty amount of lemon juice adds a brightened up flavor and also helps keep those avocados green. Lime juice could also be nice!

This Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto is an easy, quick, and vegan take on classic risotto that is perfect for summer! Tender cooked barley is drenched in a creamy dairy-free avocado sauce bursting with fresh herbs like basil and brightened up with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. This is the perfect fresh and healthy plant-based lunch or dinner and is easily made oil-free! Serve this easy vegan risotto with our lemon pepper tofu cutlets for a full meal.

How to Make Dairy Free Barley Risotto

If you pre-cook your barley or buy a quick-cook version, this risotto comes together in about 20 minutes.  All you have to do is:

  1. Cook the barley
  2. Blend the sauce ingredients
  3. Stir sauce and barley
  4. Lick the spoon (optional, but recommended)

Whilst the methods in this Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto recipe are FAR from traditional, I think you’ll find that familiar cozy, luxurious texture was most certainly NOT spared. Pair it with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and enjoy!

How to Store Leftover Vegan Risotto

You can save leftover avocado risotto or any extra sauce in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Because avocados tend to oxidize and turn brown after a while, it may help to add an extra squirt of lemon juice to your leftovers before storing.

This Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto is an easy, quick, and vegan take on classic risotto that is perfect for summer! Tender cooked barley is drenched in a creamy dairy-free avocado sauce bursting with fresh herbs like basil and brightened up with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. This is the perfect fresh and healthy plant-based lunch or dinner and is easily made oil-free! Serve this easy vegan risotto with our lemon pepper tofu cutlets for a full meal.

More Avocado Recipes:

I really think you’ll enjoy this recipe, and I hope you can make it for yourself and maybe the someone(s) you love very soon. 

When you do make this vegan risotto recipe, we would LOVE to hear about it.  Rate the recipe and leave a comment below or tag your photos @theplantpowercouple on Instagram. 

Seeing your photos and hearing how you’re using our recipes in your own kitchen makes our day every. single. time. 🙂

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Yield: 4 servings

Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto

This Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto is an easy, quick, and vegan take on classic risotto that is perfect for summer! Tender cooked barley is drenched in a creamy dairy-free avocado sauce bursting with fresh herbs like basil and brightened up with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. This is the perfect fresh and healthy plant-based lunch or dinner and is easily made oil-free! Serve this easy vegan risotto with our lemon pepper tofu cutlets for a full meal.

5 minPrep Time:

20 minCook Time:

25 minTotal Time:

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5 based on 1 review(s)

Recipe Image

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked pearled barley (or 3 cups leftover cooked barley)
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 small ripe avocados
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, destemmed and packed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can, unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. PREP THE BARLEY: Cook your barley according to the instructions on the package. When done, drain it and add it back to the pot.
  2. MAKE THE SAUCE: Throw all the sauce ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. Feel free to add more coconut milk or water if you feel the sauce is too thick.
  3. COMBINE: Pour the GORGEOUS sauce over your drained barley and use a large wooden spoon to combine the two. Heat the risotto on medium-low heat until just heated through. Serve topped with some fresh herbs and enjoy immediately!

Notes

Feel free to sub your favorite unflavored / unsweetened non-dairy milk for the coconut milk if desired. This will create a lighter sauce.

Also, to make this recipe oil-free, simply remove the 2 tsp of olive oil. However, for the creamiest results, I would be sure to use coconut milk rather than other non-dairy milks.

To bring this together faster (great weeknight option!), you can pre-cook your barley.

You can save leftover sauce in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Because avocados tend to oxidize and turn brown after a while, it may help to add an extra squirt of lemon juice to your leftovers before storing them in the fridge.

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4 thoughts on “Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto

  1. So good! Even my picky vegetable adverse 6 year old ate this AND said it was good! I added a batch of your lemon pepper baked tofu. Mmmmmm.
  2. Oh, yay! So happy to hear everyone liked it! Children are always the most honest and most welcome critics! That's a great addition of the lemon pepper cutlet with this! Thank you so much, Amy!

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