Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto

Pesto Avocado Barley Risotto - vegan, easy, healthy!

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.

Enter, Avocado Barley Risotto.

Pesto Avocado Barley Risotto - vegan, easy, healthy!

I have a secret.  Well, perhaps it’s not such a secret since I tend to talk about it on our live cooking show pretty often.  But, for those of you who don’t already know, I – Brittany Roche – am not a big fan of avocados.  

Whaaaaaaat?!  Ugh, I know.  I know.

*hangs head in shame*

But don’t give up on my just yet; let me explain a little further…

I’m not a fan of plain avocados.  Like, dice it up, throw ‘em on a taco?  No.  Just, no.  They’re all squishy and taste like straight-up leaves.  Most people will likely disagree with me on that, but I gotta be true to my gut.  And my gut is not a fan of straight up avocados.  

When I express this to people, the first thing they ask after they recover from the initial shock and urge to slap my smarmy avocado-hating face is what my feelings on guacamole are.  Because – surely – any self-respecting person loves a good chips and guac situation, no?  

The answer to that, myfriends, is:  Ehhhh, they’re hit or miss.  There needs to be a lot of spices and lime juice involved because if I can taste that leaf taste, I’m outta there.  Bring me the tofu queso STAT.  

So, that brings me to the one way I DO like to eat avocados, the method that completely transformed my relationship with this food: using them as the base for a creamy dreamy sauce.  You guys, something freaking MAGICAL happens when you add perfectly ripened avocados to a blender with some plant-based milk, herbs, & spices like fresh garlic, turmeric, nutritional yeast, etc.  Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!  THERE it is!  There’s my avocado trick.  And ever since I learned it, I have never seen avocados the same ever again.

And neither will you. 😉

This risotto recipe comes together in well UNDER 30 minutes (or about 15 if you pre-cook your barley – hello, Sunday meal prep!).  All you have to do is:

    1. make your barley,
    2. blend your sauce ingredients,
    3. Stir sauce and barley
    4. Lick the spoon (optional, but recommended)

Whilst its methods are FAR from traditional, I think you’ll find that familiar cozy, luxurious texture was most certainly NOT spared.

Pesto Avocado Barley Risotto - vegan, easy, healthy!

As you see pictured here, we love to sprinkle some rice paper bacon or Coconut Bac’n Salt on this dish.  Everything can use vegan bacon right?! 😉

If you want to make this with us LIVE, join us on our Facebook page tonight at 5PM ET.  IT WILL BE SO MUCH YUMMY FUN (my FAVORITE kind of fun!) UPDATE:  You may have missed the live broadcast but can watch the replay here:

And when you do make this, we would love love LOVE to see a photo.  Tag your photos @theplantpowercouple on Instagram and Plant Power Couple on Facebook.  Seeing your photos and hearing how you’re using our recipes in your daily life makes our day every.  single.  time.   🙂

Avocado Pesto Barley Risotto

5 minPrep Time:

20 minCook Time:

25 minTotal Time:

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5 based on 1 review(s)

Recipe Image


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


  1. Cook your barley according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Whilst the barley is cooking, 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. When the barley is finished cooking, drain it and add it back to the pot.
  4. Pour the GORGEOUS sauce over your barley and use a large wooden spoon to combine the two.
  5. Heat the risotto on medium-low heat until just heated through. Serve and enjoy immediately!


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 le5ftover 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 f lemon juice to your leftovers before storing them in the fridge.

I really think you’ll enjoy this recipe.  If I may offer a suggestion, I say plan a night all to yourself – sometime soon.  Get in your comfiest clothes, throw your hair up, get in your kitchen with a glass of wine and a playlist of music you’d be too  embarrassed to listen to around anyone else (hi, I’m brittany and I’m addicted to 2000s Emo playlists on Spotify!) and make this dish.  Then, hit the couch with a big bowl of this risotto and a new Netflix series.

It’s called “me time”.  And you deserve it, sister.

If you’d like more creamy dreamy avocado recipes, check out our Creamy Chickpea Mash with Spinach or Jackfruit Carnitas with Avocado Lime Sauce.

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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