Orzotto is essentially risotto but with pearl barley instead of rice. It’s filling; nutritious and contains a lot of fibre, so you don’t want to eat too much. I call this Woodland Orzotto because the mushrooms add to the natural nuttiness of the pearl barley – making everything taste oh-so-slightly earthy and smell like woodland in the spring.
You Will Need (to serve 5):
200g pearl barley
About 10 mushrooms (I used button because that’s what I had)
1 green pepper
A tiny spot of mozzarella or feta (optional)
2 pints of stock (I used chicken)
Finely dice the onion and sweat down in a little oil over a low heat for a few minutes until translucent.
Meanwhile finely slice the mushrooms, discarding the storks. You don’t have to waste these, you could use them in stock, soup or just on toast, but they taste a bit too woody for me. Adding the mushrooms at this stage means that the stock is enhanced with a subtle mushroom flavour.
Once the mushrooms have softened, add the green pepper. I like to roughly dice it, but you can chop it however you like. Cook this down for a minute or two then add your pearl barley. Add just enough stock to cover it, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Don’t worry at this point if it looks a little sad – it’s meant to look a little rubbish at this point, because the pearl barley will puff up into little pearls of deliciousness.
Once boiling turn down to a simmer and stir occasionally to keep everything from sticking, but not too much as stirring incorporates air and lowers the temperature. Once the stock has nearly been absorbed add a little bit more, and repeat until all the stock has been absorbed. The pearl barley should be slightly chewy but not hard, and about 3 or 4 times its original size. If it needs a little more time, add hot water.
When the pearl barley is done, add your spinach and let it wilt in the heat. You can also add tiny chunks of mozzarella and stir in to make it creamier, or feta for a salty kick.