No-Fuss Pumpkin Barley Risotto

My love for pumpkin risotto started when I was working at Sizzler during my years at uni, always getting it at the bargain cost of around $2 a serve. This barley risotto is one of my favourite mid-week recipes. It is easy to prepare, you hardly have to stir it unlike regular risotto, it's healthy because I use pearl barley* instead of arborio rice and it's incredibly tasty. I actually prefer it to regular risotto because of the chewy texture of  the barley.

 What you need to serve four lucky people
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee or grapeseed oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green part finely chopped
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (250ml) dry white wine or 1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 350 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (this stock is in addition to the wine or stock above)
  • 1 kg pumpkin (any kind) skin removed and diced into 1cm cubes (keep the skins and seeds for roasted pumpkin skin chips - simply coat in a small amount of oil, curry powder, salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley to serve
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese stirred through at the end
  • Handful of crumbled goats fetta (or other fetta) sprinkled on top at the end
  • Handful of baby spinach stirred through at the end
  • Teaspoon of butter stirred through at the end

How to cook it
Thoroughly rinse the barley and set aside (soak up to 12 hours if you have time). Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat then add the leek, onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes stirring occasional until soft. Add the white wine or stock and the barley and simmer until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed, around 5 minutes. Add the stock, pumpkin and carrot, pop the lid on and simmer for around 30 minutes stirring occasionally to stop it from burning until the stock has been absorbed and the barley is cooked but still a little bit chewy. If there is too much liquid take the lid off and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Stir the risotto vigorously so that the pumpkin is mashed and thoroughly coating the barley.

Note: if you are using organic barley it may need some additional liquid and cooking time as I have found it to be less processed than the supermarket variety

Season with salt and pepper, stir through the parmesan cheese or butter (optional), sprinkle on some freshly chopped parsley and goats fetta cheese (optional) and plate it up. I like to serve it with a spinach and green bean salad.

Be naughty
Sprinkle some fried bacon or prosciutto over the top when plating it up.

Dinner party tip
Serve the risotto on a roasted round of pumpkin (this will be in addition to the pumpkin you use for the risotto).

Use rice instead of pearl barley if you are gluten intolerant. If you don't like pumpkin use cauliflower instead.

*Note re Pearl Barley: This grain is packed with fiber, contains important vitamins and minerals, is slim on fat, is cholesterol-free and contains antioxidants ("aunty-who?" for those of you who remember that the advert trying to get people to drink more coffee). Barley contains several vitamins and minerals including niacin (Vitamin B3), thiamine (Vitamin B1), selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper. Source 1, 2.


Tali's Tomatoes said...

My beautiful friend Sara commented that it is wonderful with a squeeze of lemon juice at the end x