Lighten your cooking load and liven up your Easter spread with our easy slow-cooker risotto. This creamy rice dish is usually made with Arborio rice, but we love it with the toothsome nuttiness (and fiber) of barley. Have your guests add a squeeze of lemon for an extra pop of brightness.
Cook's NoteIf your asparagus seems extra woody, give the stalks a quick peel before cutting.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the barley and thyme, and cook, stirring, until the barley is just golden, about 2 minutes more.
Transfer the barley mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker, and add the broth, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, and cook on high until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 3 hours.
Discard the thyme, and stir in the asparagus. Return the lid to the pot, and cook until the asparagus is tender, 30 minutes more. Stir in the Parmesan, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Thin out the risotto to the desired consistency with warm water, as needed. Fold in the parsley and mint, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.