Tasty barley


My mum is always on my back on how I hoard my food ingredients.

I have a whole Toyogo box of dried ingredients waiting for me to get into the mood to cook. It’s quite bad actually.

On two occasions, my arborio rice and pasta become home ground to weevils. Trust me, you don’t want weevils in your pantry. They’re completely gross.

Sometimes though, it’s a good thing because you finally find a recipe that does justice to that ingredient. But only when you finally use them before worms and maggots or weevils come knocking.


My dearest Polish friend Ula came to visit a few months back and gifted me with packs of Kasza. It really means cereal in Eastern Europe. But it can mean buckwheat and grains. She also blessed me with millet and buckwheat and this pack of gruba (pearl barley) you see above. The only barley I have consumed is of China origin. Yes, a la barley water my mum makes. I munch on the boiled barley. Healthy snack.

But pearl barley shouldn’t be used that way, or rather, I don’t think they are meant to be cooked that way. I was too lazy to dig for recipes then, so I left it in my trusty portable pantry of a box.


Until the day I got into an Ottolenghi craze. I recently used his tomato galette recipe and discovered his world.

Convinced, I decided to whip out the barley, garlic and tomato risotto I chanced upon while browsing Guardian’s food page.


Cooking the risotto was a walk in a park. Any idiot can cook this. You just need the right ingredients and some patience.

It takes an hour to cook so please start early. Don’t be like me – I started prepping at 8pm and by the time I was done with blanching, peeling and chopping my tomatoes, it was nearly 9pm. I tucked into my piping hot risotto only at about 10pm.


The risotto supper.

Highly tasty, the big draw was biting into the chunks of feta cheese with each slightly sticky spoonful. This recipe is a keeper. I have been bringing the leftovers to work the past few days. I wanted to make it last.

I am now a pearl barley advocate. More barley recipes to come!


Yottam Ottolenghi’s barley, tomato and garlic risotto recipe
from The Guardian

3 tbsp olive oil, plus an extra trickle at the end
2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and quartered
750g fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
200g passata
½ tsp smoky paprika
⅛ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp picked thyme
4 strips fresh lemon zest
1½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
270g pearl barley, well rinsed in cold water and drained
Roughly 200ml water
20g chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
Black pepper
200g feta, crumbled roughly

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the garlic quarters for about two minutes, or until golden. Add the tomatoes, passata, paprika, chilli, thyme, lemon zest, sugar, salt, barley and a ladleful of water; stir and bring the mix to a simmer. Cook over minimal heat for 50-60 minutes, until the barley is tender but still firm to the bite. You’ll need to stir it from time to time, so it doesn’t stick to the pan, and add water occasionally, making sure there is always just enough liquid left in the pot to cook the barley. At the end of the cooking, the mix should be runny enough easily to spoon into bowls.

Once done, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the coriander and some freshly ground black pepper. Add most of the feta, stir gently so the cheese doesn’t break up too much and stays in largish chunks, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle with the reserved feta and coriander, and drizzle over a little olive oil.

• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi in London.

P.S. I used 400g passata for a stronger tomato taste. You might want to do the same if you like a strong tomatoey finish.

Posted on 2nd Sep 2010 in Uncategorized


There Is Only 1 Comment So Far


Homer commented on July 29, 2014 at 9:05 am


ñýíêñ çà èíôó!…

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