Pearl barley risotto is one of my new discoveries and my goodness is it a goodie. The cauliflower in the pearl barley risotto is deliciously creamy and unctuous and to be totally honest, just a total joy!
Pearl barley is a really underused grain and I don’t think it gets nearly the amount of recognition it deserves. It has a satisfyingly chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste and is wonderfully nutritious. It’s packed full of fibre but also just as important is the fact that it’s so easy to cook! Yay!
Cooking a risotto with pearl barley is so much more forgiving than risotto rice. Ever been afraid of cooking risotto because you’re worried of messing it up? Well look no further my friend, this is the perfect dish for you!
Pearl barley makes an excellent risotto because it releases starch as it cooks, which thickens the liquid and results in a naturally creamy and delicious risotto. One of the reasons I like cooking with it, is that (within reason) it is really hard to overcook! Which makes it ideal!
I’ve taken a top tip from the cooking giant Jamie Oliver and have made a deliciously crunchy, salty and slightly spicy crumble topping to adorn the top of the creamy risotto and it just takes it to the next level of deliciousness. It’s fancy name is a Pangrattato, but I prefer not to faff with the fancy name and just call it a crumble! It’s not quite the same as his as I’ve used a rye bread and adjusted the recipe, but the idea for the crumble topping is certainly all his.
This risotto is seriously good. Creamy cauliflower, slightly nutty pearl barley, with a perfect contradiction from the sharp parmesan and all topped with the salty crunch of the rye bread crumble. My goodness, is this delicious!
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ cauliflower
- 200g pearl barley, rinsed
- 600ml vegetable stock
- 200ml boiling water
- 15g butter (optional)
- 25g Parmesan, grated
- black pepper and salt
- 10g parmesan peeled in strips for garnish
- micro herbs or chopped parsley
- 2 slices rye bread
- 1 small tinned anchovies , oil from tin reserved
- pinch of dried red chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Whizz everything except the olive oil in the food processor
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and once hot tip in the crumble mixture. Fry gently until it’s golden and crispy. Tip onto some kitchen paper to drain. This will keep for a good few days in a sealed container, so you can make in advance.
- I also love it sprinkled on salads and anything that could benefit from a bit of crunch.
- First prepare the cauliflower. Take off a couple of florets which you can fry up separately for a garnish
- Then roughly chop the rest of the cauli including the stalk. You want it as small as you can get it, but don’t stress about it too much!
- Using two tablespoons of oil, fry the cauliflower until golden, set aside.
- Using the same pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the chopped onion over a medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so.
- Then add the pearl barley, stock and water, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the barley is soft but still has a little bite in the centre. Add water if needed.
- Once cooked, stir in the cauliflower and grated parmesan and butter if you are using, season with black pepper, and taste. Add salt if necessary.
- Scoop into bowls and garnish with a sprinkling of parmesan, some strips of parmesan, the fried cauliflower florets as garnish and a sprinkling of micro herbs