Mushroom Barley Risotto with a Mint and Lime Dressing

You may have noticed that risotto is on every menu as the only vegetarian option at the moment (…yawn!).

Since risotto is an easy and lovely dish to make at home, I thought I’d add it to this blog, but with a bit of a twist. I have used pearl barley instead of risotto rice, which means that this dish is no longer technically a risotto in the traditional sense.

Barley has loads of great health benefits. Apparently, cooked barley helps balance blood sugar levels and contains about 3.6g of protein per cup.

It has been used in European cooking for centuries, and of late, we seem to have been only using it in soups, but it is much more versatile than that.

Ingredients (serves 2)

75g shiitake mushrooms
75g dried porcini mushrooms (ceps)
400g pearl barley
1 glass of white wine
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt / pepper
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 handful of mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil

Method

Fry the onion in olive oil until translucent before adding the garlic and shiitake mushrooms. Cook for about five minutes before adding the barley, dried porcini mushrooms, stock cube, seasoning and white wine. Also add about half a pint of water before putting the lid on to cook for about 30 minutes. Keep checking to make sure there is enough water – barley does need quite a lot. Also be sure to stir it once in a while to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While the risotto is cooking, finely slice the mint leaves before putting it in a small jug along with a large glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and lime and drizzle over the top when you are ready to serve.

Notes

I haven’t added parmesan-style cheese to this dish as I don’t think it goes well with the mint and lime, but you can substitute the mint and lime dressing for cheese if you prefer.

I quite like to add lots of freshly ground pepper to this recipe has it helps bring out the earthy mushroom flavours.

You can use any mushrooms you like, but it this dish goes well with strong tasting mushrooms such as shiitake and porcini. Closed cup mushrooms might be a bit too bland.

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