Spring is really flexing its muscles now so I thought I’d share this simple recipe for a spring vegetable pearl barley risotto which makes the most of the early broad bean crop.
What Is Pearl Barley Good For?
My earliest memories of pearl barley are weighing it out on my Grandma’s scales. I weighed out handfuls of this beautiful, smooth textured grain before pouring it into paper bags and selling it back to her from my little shop!
When I grew up I realised what a very useful, under used little grain pearl barley really is!
It’s a fabulous addition to soups, stews and vegetable pies. As it simmers away with the veg and stock it works as a thickener and adds a creaminess and texture which is hard to get from anything else.
But, best of all, use it instead of rice in a pearl barley risotto. That creaminess and texture is exactly what makes pearl barley such a good substitute for risotto rice.
The pearl barley adds a slightly more substantial bite than rice, which is really satisfying after a day digging over the veg beds!
How To Make Pearl Barley Risotto
Making a risotto with barley is much simpler than making one with traditional risotto rice.
Pearl barley doesn’t require all that stirring to encourage it to release its starches, it just gets on with it itself leaving you free to relax at the end of a busy day.
All it requires is a stir or two and a check every now and again to see if it needs a top up. Obliging little grain!
I’ve used a mixture of wine and stock in my risotto but feel free to leave the wine out. Just swap it for a bit more stock instead.
Vegetables and Herbs For Risotto
My spring vegetable risotto makes the most of the season’s first baby broad beans and peas. I love combining these beautiful greens with fresh mint and parsley for a real spring zing!
You can also use this basic pearl barley risotto recipe as the starting point for lots of other flavours throughout the year. You could try:
- Autumnal mushrooms and leeks with thyme.
- Wild garlic and asparagus in spring.
- Summery courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes with basil.
- Wintery squash with sage.
More Simple Recipes
If you like this recipe for Barley Risotto you might also like my:
- Three Grain Salad with a Roasted Pepper Dressing
- Crunchy Green Salad with Broad Beans and Mint
- Red Pesto Pasta
- Oven Baked Risotto with Pumpkin
Barley Risotto with Broad Beans and Peas
- 100 g fresh or frozen broad beans
- 100 g fresh or frozen peas
- 75 g pearl barley
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion , peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 60 ml vegan white wine (optional)
- 500 - 750 ml vegan vegetable stock
- 4 spring onions , trimmed and sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- If you're using fresh beans and peas pop them out of their pods (don't forget to enjoy stroking the blankety bed inside the broad bean shells!)
- Bring two small pans of water to the boil. Cook the broad beans for 3-5 minutes in one and the peas for 2-3 minutes in the other (or according to packet instructions if you are using frozen veg). Drain and refresh under cold water.
- Pod the beans (remove the outer skin by pinching a hole in one end and squeezing them out).
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and cook gently until soft.
- Add the garlic and barley and cook for a further minute.
- Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed.
- Add 500 ml vegetable stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes until the barley is tender and the stock is absorbed (add more stock if necessary).
- Add the beans and peas and cook gently for a further two minutes, covered.
- Add the spring onions, fresh herbs and black pepper to taste.