Mushroom and Pot-Barley Risotto

Barley is a traditional ingredient in Scottish cooking, where it appears in hearty, warming broths and stews. Here it’s used in the Italian equivalent – a risotto. In fact, it makes a much easier risotto than rice, as barley doesn’t need nearly so much attention during cooking – just pour on the stock and leave it to simmer. Pot barley (unlike pearl barley) is the whole grain and is a good source of protein, fibre and niacin (vitamin B3), as well as the trace minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It needs to be soaked for at least six hours, as this makes it more digestible and reduces
the cooking time. I sometimes serve this with marinated griddled courgettes to further the Italian theme.


Serves 4

2 tbsp coconut oil or mild or medium (not extra virgin) olive oil or butter

2 white onions, finely chopped

300g (101/2oz) assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced

300g (101/2oz) pot barley, soaked overnight and drained

25g (1oz) dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes and drained (add the soaking liquor to the stock)

1.2L (2pt) hot vegetable stock, including the soaking liquor from the dried mushrooms

freshly ground black pepper

a little sea salt to taste

50g (2oz) grated Parmesan

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


1 Heat the oil or butter in a heavy-based saucepan and gently sweat the onions for 3–4 minutes to soften them. Add the fresh mushrooms and sweat for another 6–8 minutes until they soften as well.

2 Pour in the pot barley and stir frequently for a couple of minutes to toast the grains.

3 Add the dried mushrooms and stir for a few minutes. Now add the hot stock and let the barley simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has absorbed all the liquid. This should take around an hour.

4 Season to taste with black pepper and a little salt, then dollop onto plates, and scatter with the Parmesan and parsley.

Cook’s Notes

Wheat-free if you use a wheat-free stock, dairy-free if you omit the Parmesan, yeast-free • V • Can be made in advance, but warm the risotto through and add the parsley when you’re ready to serve.

From Delicious, Health Sugar Free by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce. With special thanks to Fiona McDonald Joyce for use of these recipes for Holford Health Club members.


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