This is our second barley risotto recipe. The first one was much simpler — just a plain, cheesy risotto. We decided to experiment with some roast pumpkin and crunchy snap peas for contrast. The result was utterly moreish — the barley is different to rice in that it retains a bit of chewiness, but is also a delicious nutty flavour.
The roast pumpkin worked very well to bind the risotto in much the same way arborio rice would stick together in a traditional risotto. We chopped the snap peas into 1cm pieces and added them to the risotto at the last minute, providing a pleasant contrasting crunch.
This is probably not best for a Wednesday night meal — save it for a long weekend lunch where you don’t mind standing around stirring for a long time! Despite this, it’s well worth the effort to be able to eat risotto again in a healthy, low GI, diabetes-friendly way. (Traditional arborio rice is pretty high GI at 69 — whereas barley is very low, at only 25.)
- Serves: 8
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time: 1.5 hours
- 2 cups of pearl barley
- 1.5 litres of chicken stock
- 1 litre of water
- 1 chicken breast, chopped into slices
- half a cup of white wine
- 2 cloves of garlic
- half a leek, chopped into 4mm slices and washed
- 1 whole butternut pumpkin
- half a cup of chopped snap peas
- 50g of grated parmesan
- A few sage leaves
- half a cup of chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 180 °C
- Dice pumpkin into 1cm cubes
- Put pumpkin cubes into a baking dish and cover with 500ml of chicken stock and half a cup of white wine. Sprinkle the sage leaves over the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes
- Get two saucepans – one large, heavy-based stock pot, and one medium sized one.
- In the medium one, put the 1 litre of water and 1 litre of stock and bring to the boil
- Meanwhile, heat your heavy-based stock pan to a high heat
- When hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and chicken
- Fry until the chicken is brown and deglaze with white wine, stock or water if necessary.
- Add the chopped leek, stir, add a little chicken stock (half a cup), and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the leek is soft.
- Remove the chicken and leek from the pan, leaving the juices behind
- Add the pearl barley to the pan the chicken was in, and turn up to a medium heat
- Add a further tablespoon of olive oil
- Stir and fry for about a minute – until everything is hot
- Next, add about half a cup of stock from the other (medium size) saucepan
- Continue to stir the barley until the stock is absorbed
- Repeat the process gradually adding more liquid to the stock and continuing to stir
- This process will involve approximately 45 minutes of stirring — don’t forget about the pumpkin while you’re stirring — remove it from the oven when cooked.)
- The pearl barley will still be a little moist at the end of 45 minutes, however you can finish the process in the oven
- Transfer the risotto into an oven-proof pan or baking dish, and stir in the pumpkin, chicken and leek.
- Cook at 180 °C for 20 minutes
- Remove from the oven and stir in the finely chopped parsley, parmesan cheese and chopped peas
- Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over it, and add salt and pepper at the table to taste.