Risotto Maki Rolls

Welcome to the maki revolution.  These ones are practically a superfood compared to traditional maki, they are so nutrient dense! Ever since I bought nori (seaweed papers) and learned how to make maki I’ve been making very unique versions of it.  This is the most outrageous yet.  A few weeks ago, there were tropical maki made with quinoa, coconut, mango, avocado and goji berries.  Today we’ll start by making risotto to put inside instead of regular rice, we’ll fill it with roasted peppers and portabello mushrooms, and top it with some kale pesto and parmesan!

This is a really fun way to eat risotto.  They’re good cold. or you can warm them up in the oven.

I made the risotto using barley, because that’s what we’ve been doing around here lately.  It’s a good whole grain with a lot of substance to it–and it’s good for you (we’ll get to benefits after the recipe).



  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 minced yellow onion
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1 diced portabella mushroom
  • 2 and 1/4 cups broth (we used beef as it’s what we had on hand)
  • 1 T olive oil


  • 1.5 red peppers
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • kale pesto
  • nori sheets (I forget how many!  about 5 or 6.  They come in large packs anyway)

How to risotto:

  1. after mincing onion and garlic, let them sit a minute
  2. in a large pot or dutch oven, sweat garlic and onion in olive oil for 3 minutes
  3. add barley and stir to coat it
  4. add 1 cup of broth, stir..bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer
  5. keep adding broth whenever it has reduced, until all the broth has been used, about 30-40 minutes
  6. when the risotto is ready, set it aside until cool to handle.

When I made this, I was going right from risotto making to maki making, so I put it into a few bowls to help it cool down faster.

  1. cut peppers in half, placing them cut side down
  2. broil for 15 minutes
  3. remove skin
  4. when cool to touch, slice into 1cm wide pieces
  5. fry the mushroom with some olive oil in a pan for about 4 minutes a side
  6. when cool to touch, slice mushrooms

Putting it all together:

On a plastic covered sushi mat, place 1 sheet of nori.  Spread out risotto, leaving a 1′ border at the top of the nori.  Near the bottom, lay out your pepper and mushroom slices.

Roll away!  Starting at the end near the pepper/mushroom, roll and tuck.  You can see more detailed pictures here.
When you’re at the naked part of the nori, stop and wet that edge with some water.
Place the rolled up roll with the ‘seam’ down, and refridgerate for at least 15 minutes before cutting into 5-7 bit sized pieces.
When you’re cutting, be super gentle with it, use a good knife, but saw gentle no nothing gets smooshed.

This is what they look like without toppings.  You can serve them like this, with the kale pesto on the side, the way you’d typically have ginger on the side.

If you want to dress them up, any extra red pepper pieces work wonderfully.

If  you feel like heating them up in the oven a little to melt that cheese, they’re great that way too.

As if these didn’t look delicious enough, here’s why you should eat them:

  • Barley is a great whole grain.  1 serving provides more than half of your daily fiber, half your daily selenium (which is cancer fighting), and is also a good source of Tryptophan which can get give you a better night’s sleep!  Typically trypotophan is associated with poultry, particularly turkey.
  • Nori/seaweek is a great source of iodine, which is good for thyroid function.  Hello better metabolism!
  • Kale is an excellent source of Vitamins K, A, and C.

Yes, you can get all your vitamin C from pesto!

Got any ideas on more original versions of maki to make? I’m up for them!



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