I’ve been using lots of whole grains in my cooking recently. This is partly due to continuing efforts to eat a healthy, balanced diet*, but mostly it’s out of plain curiousity. Barley, oats, millet, wheat, farro, bulgar… There are so many to try in so many different ways.
Some, I know, will not be for me. Quinoa, for example, is not something I eat very often. It tastes fine but those little spirals that form in the centre of the grains when they are fully cooked make me think of ringworm. Not an appetite inducing thought. Barley, on the other hand, I love. It looks fluffy and soft when cooked and it reminds me of eating my Nana’s rib-sticking soups when I was a child.
On several occasions over the last few months I’ve come across the idea of using barley rather than rice in risotto. As a humongous risotto fan, I was rather excited about trying it out and did so this week.
Usually, I love to add butter or extra cheese or cream to my risottos and watch them ooze (which is why the dish is generally a weekend treat in my house) but barley risotto struck me as a virtuous thing and so I kept substances-that-ooze to a minimum. There was no loss of taste or texture. The starch in the barley along with a comparatively small amount of cheese created a surprisingly creamy risotto.
Looking forward to eating this again. 🙂
Barley Risotto with Pesto
1 tblspn olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Glug of wine
250g pearl barley
750ml hot vegetable stock
Handful of parmesan
2/3 tblspns basil pesto
Handful of chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
- As with normal risottos, gently saute the onion and garlic in the oil until soft.
- Add the barley and stir. Increase the heat. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol.
- Ladle by ladle, add the hot stock to the barley stirring until absorbed. Continue for approximately 30 mins or until the barley is soft but chewy (it will not become as soft as risotto rice).
- Stir in the pesto, parmesan and season carefully.
- Top with chopped nuts.
* Feel compelled to admit admit I was eating Nutella from the jar whilst writing this post. :-S