Pearl barley makes a great change from using rice, it isn’t gluten free or anything it just gives a different flavour and a great texture. Plus it’s a great source of dietary fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals. It’s nutty flavour works so well with the sweet pumpkin and salty feta.
Not to mention those semi dried tomatoes, try to get some that are marinated in olive oil as their flavour is great. By adding them early on in the cooking time their flavour really melts into the ‘risotto’. They go so well with the fresh, bright basil. Not to mention that there’s two cheeses in this because cheese is great.
I keep writing risotto in inverted commas because we all know risotto isn’t risotto without rice. But that doesn’t mean that other grains don’t taste delicious when cooked in the same way. If your more of a traditionalist then you could make this using arborio rice. Or check out my mushroom risotto recipe instead.
This is one of those great recipes that you can make at the start of the week and eat for lunches, it also freezes well. For more time saving batch cooking ideas check out this list! Because this is a high fibre dish it should keep you full for longer too, which is something I always look at with vegetarian food.
400g pumpkin, in 2cm curbes
1 Tbs fresh thyme
3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
2 sticks Celery, finely chopped
3 cups pearl barley
1 cup white wine
2 liters vegetable stock, hot
1 cup semi dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1.5 cups fresh basil, torn
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray. Toss pumpkin with thyme and 1 Tbs of olive oil. Spread pumpkin in a single layer on the baking tray. Add garlic cloves, whole and in their skin. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile add remaining olive oil to a large deep heavy based frying pan and put on meidum high heat. Once hot add the celery. Turn down the heat and cook celery, stirring often for a 2-3 minutes until softened.
Rinse pearl barley and then add to the celery. Stir for 1-2 minutes to coat in oil and toast slightly. add a little stock if it’s sticking already. Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated and then add 1 litre of hot stock. Stir and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the chopped semi dried tomatoes and the remaining stock. Cook with the lid on your pan (or use foil or a large plate to cover) for 15 -25 minutes. Remove the lid and stir every couple of minutes during this time. The barley is done when the stock is mostly evaporated and it is tender, cooking time can vary depending on the batch so check it!
Once tender add the pumpkin, stir to combine. Turn off the heat add parmesan and mix well. Add 3/4 cup basil and 100g of feta and stir gently to just mix through. Check seasoning.
Serve scattered with remaining feta and basil..