Pearl Barley Risotto

Pearl Barley is a grain which is similar to wheat in terms of their nutritional value. It is most commonly used in soups and stews, but it also makes a tasty risotto, as confirmed in Annie Jackson’s blog post about our rationing challenge. This recipe does ask for a little over a quarter of your cheese ration, but the result is worth it! You can adapt the vegetables that you use depending on the season, to ensure that you use fresh, local produce. If you are looking for a meaty addition, you can stir in a little bit of fried bacon or chorizo. This recipe generously serves four.


1 litre vegetable stock

50g butter

2 tbsp oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

300g pearl barley, rinsed

125ml dry white wine

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced 2cm thick

150g purple-sprouting broccoli, tough stems removed, roughly chopped

50g hard, mature goat’s cheese, grated



  1. Put the stock in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then turn down to a very low heat
  2. Heat half the butter and a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat
  3. Add the onion, garlic and thyme, and cook gently until soft (about 10 minutes)
  4. Stir in the barley and cook gently for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add the wine and let it bubble until the liquid is absorbed by the grains
  6. Add the stock, a quarter at a time, stir often and let each lot be absorbed before you add the next
  7. It should take about 40 minutes for the barley to cook, if you run out of stock, add a splash of boiling water.
  8. While the barley is cooking, place the remaining oil and butter in a small frying pan
  9. Cook the leeks over a medium heat stirring occasionally, until just tender
  10. Lightly steam the broccoli for 3-4 minutes, until just tender
  11. Once the barley is cooked, stir through the leeks, broccoli and grated cheese

You can find Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s original recipe here, along with other barley recipes