Zucchini, lemon and barley risotto

I’m a big fan of barley and a friend recently made me the most amazing lemon barley risotto. It was great, but really heavy. I thought I’d experiment with a mixture of short grain risotto rice and barley to see if I could achieve something a bit lighter, but retain the chewy texture of the pearl barley. I was pretty pleased with the result, so here it is.

Zucchini and barley risotto

  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • good slug of olive oil
  • 2 small brown onions, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 100 ml white wine
  • zest of two small lemons
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 400 grams zucchini diced in 1cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan

Heat the oil over a medium flame in a heavy-bottom pan. Add the onions and cook for five minutes until soft. Add the rice and barley to the pan and stir for several minutes, until the rice goes a little translucent. Add the white wine and cook off for a minute.  Slowly add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring in between.

Most risotto recipes say that you should stir the rice constantly, but I don’t think they really mean constantly. If you stir all the time without stopping, all the grains of rice will break up. I give at least two good stirs with each addition of stock, but otherwise leave it alone.  This makes risotto-making far less laborious.

Just before the rice tastes like it is cooked – tender with a slight bite – add the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, and cook for a further five minutes. Stir in the parsley and parmesan, saving a little for a garnish on the top.

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