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Posts Tagged ‘Pearl barley’

Traditionally risotto is made with Italian arborio rice–a round variety that plumps up well as it absorbs liquid, while still retaining a bite at its centre.

As white rice–a carbohydrate converting more quickly to sugar–it’s not ideal for those with diabetes.

Pearl barley is an acceptable substitute. It has a delicious nuttiness all it own while modestly hosting the mushrooms and leeks (in this case).

This takes a little time but when you come to cook it, the zen of making risotto (!) kicks in and it becomes a quiet meditation followed by a satisfying chew.

Risotto has the virtue of being a meal-in-one dish–eventually!

As with omelettes, you add the the subject to the base and serve it in one.

This is adapted from an original recipe by Emma Booth who won a prize with it in Stylist.co.uk magazine!

for 2/3

2  garlic heads–cloves separated but skin left on

4 tbsps olive oil

1 oz dried mushrooms–soaked in 200ml warm water.

(These are not always easy to find but they’re a good taste engine, adding depth to the dish.)

(If you can’t get dried mushrooms, just use the 200ml warm water!)

200g fresh mushrooms–sliced thin

11/2 leeks–chopped fine

200g pearl barley–rinsed thoroughly until the water runs clear

1 tsp fresh thyme–chopped

600ml stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

2 tblsps white wine

50g/2oz Parmesan–grated

black pepper and salt

heat the oven to 190C/380F

  • Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 200ml hot water–leave to soften for 20 minutes.

  • Then strain into a bowl, reserving the liquid.
  • Chop the mushrooms ready for use.
  • Put the garlic cloves in a bowl and mix with a tablespoon of olive oil.

  • Empty them onto a shallow oven tray.
  • Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are soft–and set aside to cool.
  • Peel them and fork them into a mush–this is a messy business but it ends with a satisfying licking of the fingers.

  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and sauté the mushrooms until they start to colour (this happens after they have released their moisture), then set aside.

  • Heat the last tablespoon of oil in a medium casserole (the one in which you will serve the risotto) and sauté the leeks over a medium heat until they soften and colour a little.

  • Add the wine and let it evaporate, stirring the while.
  • Mix in the pearl barley, thyme and cooked garlic mush.

  • Have the stock in a pan close by–simmering on a low heat.
  • Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring often, taking care the mix  doesn’t catch.

  • Followed by the mushroom water–if you are using dried mushrooms–or warm water if not.
  • When the barley is soft but still has a little bite in the centre–this took about 20 minutes this morning–the risotto is ready for the mushrooms–dry and fresh.
  • Add them and stir in, followed by the parmesan cheese.

  • Season with black pepper and salt.
  • Meredith recommended a sprinkling of parsley at the finish–and she’s right!

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