Monday, 19 July 2010

Barley, tomato and garlic risotto

This isn't actually risotto at all - it is orzotto, made with barley instead of rice. The recipe appeared in Yotam Ottolenghi's Guardian column a couple of weeks ago, and is every bit as delicious as one normally expects his recipes to be. The use of pearl barley gives the dish a very different texture from risotto - whereas rice slowly breaks up during cooking, releasing its starch and creating a creamy texture, the barley maintains its integrity and is al dente even after an hour of cooking. The long cooking time also results in a rich, concentrate tomato flavour, while the garlic (two whole heads of garlic!) mellows during cooking and creates even greater depth of flavour.


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

Fry the garlic for a couple of minutes. Bung everything else in the pan, apart from the feta and coriander. Simmer for an hour or so with the lid off, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of extra water if it dries out. At the end, stir in most of the feta and coriander. Serve and then sprinkle the remaining feta and coriander over as a garnish.

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