Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach

After a bit of a crazy weekend I didn’t get a chance to post the last few days, but had already prepared posts. I’m going to go ahead and share one tonight and hopefully a few tomorrow to catch up, as I’d like to get back on track for the last few days of MoFo.

It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

For a long time, pearl barley was one of those things I would buy and it would sit at the back of the cupboard forever, until that first time I tried it. The nutty, chewiness is what I love, and the reason I think it makes a perfect risotto. We also pretty much always have spinach and mushrooms, as they are boyfriend bear’s favourite breakfast constituents and we seem to have an abundance of lemons always from housemates’ parents or workmates or even the yard down the road that we sometimes sneak into.

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So even though we’re edging away from the cold, snow-at-your-door weather (okay, so we never get snow at the door), this is the perfect thing to cook in that kind of weather. Also great about risotto is that you can pretty much cook it using anything you’ve got on hand – veggies, herbs, spices. It always seems to work out filling, hearty and generally delicious.

Also, I took the ingredients over to my parents’ house to cook and even my dog wanted in on the action –

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She knows what’s good!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach
(serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced finely
1 leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium and add onion and leek, cooking for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook a further couple of minutes. Add pearl barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, a couple of minutes. Now start to add stock, one ladle at a time, and allow to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle full. Continue to cook like this, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.

Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, nutritional yeast and spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with extra parsley.

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