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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Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

I’m having another kind of cheat day, in that I’m just re-posting an older recipe with a newer photo. Unfortunately I snapped this one a little too late in the day and I had lost most of the good light, so I was not particularly pleased. It will have to do though. I first posted this while we were in the van – we enjoyed it on the waterfront of a Queensland town from our little biodegradable camping bowls. What I wouldn’t give to be back there again!

Make a dish using all seasonal produce.

Okay, so it’s not ALL seasonal produce, but mostly. Unfortunately I had just harvested our snow peas a week or so ago and we had already munched them all, so I did not have home grown peas to add. Instead, I used sugar snap peas from the local fruit and veg market. The peas were not as plump and juicy which was disappointing. Our mint has also gone crazy in the past few weeks – it is growing wild through parts of the garden and the leaves are getting huge. I’ve been appreciating the joy of plucking a few leaves and steeping in hot water for fresh mint tea.

As I mentioned the first time round, this recipe is a veganised version of a Donna Hay one, that my mum picked out and made for me at her house one day. I enjoyed it so much that I have made it several times since.

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Spring Pea and Mint Risotto
(serves 4-6)

2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups hot veggie stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
200g sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed, blanched and halved
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp vegan butter
Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Tofutti cream cheese for serving
Snow pea tendrils for serving (optional)

Put the mint and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the rice and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly before adding the wine and allowing it to cook off – approximately 2 more minutes.

Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing each to absorb before adding the next, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in mint mixture, yeast flakes, butter, snow peas, frozen peas and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with a dollop of Tofutti, and if you like, drizzle with a little olive oil. Chuck on some snow pea tendrils too if you have them!

tomatoweb

Music for your Mouth: The Smashing Pumpkins

I bet you were all waiting for these guys to come along. It was definitely one of the first foody bands I had thought of when coming up with the list. Yet another teenage discovery, the Smashing Pumpkins were definitely high on rotation back in the day. I don’t listen to them a lot anymore, but when I do I always feel reminiscent of those days. Just like getting on like a house on fire with an old friend you haven’t seen in years, the music just comes back to me.

For today’s meal, I’ve smashed some pumpkins (sort of? the blender smashed them for me I suppose..) into a creamy delicious risotto. This is actually the best risotto I’ve ever made. I think the taste is great, but I also really just cooked it to perfection – I have a habit of cooking risottos on high heat to try and get them done quickly. This time I was patient, cooked it slowly, and reaped the rewards.

So many songs, how to choose one for this post? I’m playing Tonight, Tonight, because it’s a great song and the film clip is awesome. It’s inspired by the Georges Méliès silent film, A Trip to the Moon. I looove Georges Méliès films, they are so whimsical and wonderful and absolutely captivating. If you haven’t seen any, look them up after watching the Pumpkins homage – you won’t regret it! (The ones with added soundtracks and hand colouring are especially magical!)

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Creamy Pumpkin and Leek Risotto with Crispy Sage
(serves 4)

1/2 butternut pumpkin (about 1 cup once pureed)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 brown onion, diced
2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cups arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped sage
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp chili flakes
Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp coconut oil
Sage – approx 20 leaves
Pinch of sea salt

First up, you’re going to want to roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 200C. Remove all bits of skin and seeds, and dice pumpkin flesh. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Chuck in two garlic cloves in their skins as well, just because how can you roast a vegetable without adding some garlic? Exactly, you can’t. Roast for about 25-30 mins until tender.

When the pumpkin is about half done, heat up 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and half of your leek, and saute for five or so minutes until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

While this is happening, bring your stock to boil in another pot, then turn down to a mild simmer.

Add rice to onion mix and dry fry for about a minute. Add white wine, and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, until most of the wine has been absorbed.

From here, start adding stock. I like to use a ladle and scoop it in one ladle-full at a time. Your rice should always be JUST covered by stock. Turn heat down to medium-low, so that it is never more than a slow simmer. DO NOT walk away from your risotto…this takes some time, but it’s best to be patient. Continue to add stock as needed to keep liquid above rice, then wait for it to absorb. Stir your risotto frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

When your pumpkin is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Place in a blender, and squeeze your little garlic cloves out of their skins and into the blender too. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Once all your stock has been added, check texture of rice. If it is al dente – perfect! If it still has a little way to go, you may need to continue adding liquid until it reaches the desired texture.

Add remaining leek, sage leaves, nutritional yeast and chili flakes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour pumpkin puree in and mix well.

For the crispy sage – heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a small pot until very hot. Have some paper towel on a plate ready next to you. One at a time, drop your sage leaves into the oil. Have a fork ready to scoop them out after about 10 seconds, when they become crispy. Follow this process with each sage leaf, then sprinkle the lot of them with a bit of crushed sea salt.

Remove risotto from heat, serve and garnish with sage leaves.

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veganmofo

 

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

Okay, so as promised, today I’ve got a recipe for you!

As I said yesterday, we made it to Bowen in the afternoon. Aside from the Big Mango, Bowen is also known as ‘the Mural town’, due to the (you guessed it) murals painted on the sides of many buildings around town. We took a little wander and saw some of them, I think there were upwards of 20 in total though. They all told a little about the Town’s history, or the community which was pretty cool.

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Afterwards, we went down to the foreshore, where they’ve obviously done some recent upgrades. There was a killer new skate park that Billy enjoyed, and also this amazing waterpark/playground that was free for all. Every couple of minutes, the big bucket at the top would fill up and then pour over the whole playground. It was pretty spectacular.

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We decided to cook up a feed before travelling a further 45km to a free overnight stop north of Bowen, on the way to Ayr.

This recipe was adapted from a Donna Hay magazine, and truth be told, my mum was actually the first to veganise this one last time we were in Melbourne. I really enjoyed it, the mint brings a nice fresh flavour to the risotto.

This time I made it slightly different, as I got a bunch of snow peas at the farmer’s market the other day and used them in the place of sugar snap peas. The original recipe also calls for snow pea tendrils for serving, which would have given it a bit more oomph, but we were just using what we had available to us. We got the lovely big bunch of mint from the markets too, and it had been picked just the night before. It smelt and tasted amazing. Anyway, here’s the recipe!

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*note: when we had this at my mum and dad’s, mum used a mortar and pestle to grind up the mint leaves and salt. We don’t have one in the van, so I gave it a few pulses in the food processor, and then used the back of a spoon and a bowl to mush it into a paste.

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto
(serves 4-6)

2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 L hot chicken flavoured stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
200g snow peas (or sugar snap peas), trimmed, blanched and halved
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp Tofutti cream cheese, plus extra for serving
Snow pea tendrils for serving (optional)

Put the mint and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms (see note above). Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the wine and cook off for another 2 minutes, before adding the rice and cooking for a further 2 mins, stirring frequently.

Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing each to absorb before adding the next, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in yeast flakes, Tofutti, snow peas, frozen peas and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with a dollop of Toffuti, and if you like, drizzle with a little olive oil. Chuck on some snow pea tendrils too if you have them! I didn’t..

veganmofo