Pearl barley risotto

One of the most pressing issues of the moment is food poverty. Recent research estimates that over five million people in the UK alone are struggling to feed themselves properly and eat nutritiously.
Daily food budgets in households can be less than many of us would spend on a cappuccino, €1.50 on average.
People are finding it hard to make ends meet. Food prices have risen by 25% in the last five years, hitting households hard and making it almost impossible even for working parents to put nutritious meals on the table.
This recipe draws on the back catalogue of the much revered chef Jeremy Lee who created it for the great British Budget Menu.
Pearl barley risottos are much cheaper than traditional risottos but do not fulfil the 30p meal brief of the less revered MP Lee Anderson.They do however have a pleasing nutty flavour that works wonderfully with butternut squash and sage.

75g/2½oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
800g-1kg/1lb 12oz-2lb 4oz butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 litre/1¾ pint vegetable stock (made from a stock cube)
250g/9oz pearl barley, rinsed
2 sprigs sage, leaves picked and finely sliced
salt and black pepper 

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add 25g/1oz of the butter and, once melted, add the onion and squash along with a pinch of salt. Gently fry for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the squash is softening. Add the garlic and continue to cook for two minutes, or until aromatic.
In a separate pan, warm the stock and half of the sage leaves.
Add 25g/1oz of the butter to the onion and squash and, once melted, add the pearl barley. Turn up the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and add a ladleful of warm stock. Stir well to mix and, once absorbed, add another ladleful, stirring now and again. Repeat this process until the stock is used up and the pearl barley is tender (about 30 minutes).
Once the barley is tender, taste and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining butter to the pan and stir through.
Serve the risotto garnished with the remaining sage.


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