Mushroom and Pearl Barley Risotto

This delicious and earthy flavoured risotto is easy to make, and a very impressive dish to serve to family or guests at a dinner party. Risotto is traditionally made with white wine as a liquid, but we have used our own, very special Verjuice. Pearl barley is full of health enhancing properties, and makes a great change from using rice.

Serves:                      4

Preparation time:   10 minutes

Cooking time:         45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 250g wild mushrooms, sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces (alternatively, use dried ceps that have been soaked in water overnight)
  • 300g pearl barley
  • 150mls Verjuice
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 180g light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 115g parmesan cheese, grated or cut into fine slivers

Optional:  you could add peas or lightly grilled asparagus spear tops

Method

  1. Mix the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Toss in the onion/shallot and garlic and sauté until softened.
  2. Throw in the thyme sprigs and mushrooms. Sauté until golden and toss in the pearl barley. Mix thoroughly to coat ingredients in the oils.
  3. With the heat on high, pour in the Verjuice.
  4. Cook until the Verjuice has been completely absorbed. Following on, gradually add the stock, ensuring that with each addition, it is soaked into the ingredients, before adding more. When coming to the end of the stock, make sure that the barley has softened enough to be edible.
  5. Season to your taste (ground black pepper is good), turn off the heat and then stir through the last amount of stock and the cream cheese.
  6. Leave to rest for a few minutes, portion into bowls and sprinkle with the parmesan and parsley.

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