Pearl Barely Risotto with Spring Vegetables with Pangratatto

A light and tasty midweek dish.  Pearl barley makes a delicious risotto-style meal. No need to stand over it stirring while is cooks either.  Use up any left over spring veg, chopped or sliced, and serve with grated cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or Pangratatto.

Pangratatto are crispy fried breadcrumbs with chopped herbs stirred through. Usually served as an accompaniment to a creamy pasta dish. Here they compliment the soft texture of the pearl barley and are an excellent way to use up stale bread and herbs that are past their best.  

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Pearl Barely Risotto with Spring Vegetables

pearl barley risotto


Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

300g pearl barley

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

150-200g fresh, green spring veg. courgette, asparagus, mangetout, leek. alternately use a mix of frozen broad beans and peas.

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 tablespoons Mascarpone or plain yoghurt

1-2 tablespoons fresh mixed herbs: such as thyme, lemon thyme, or mint

To serve:

30g parmesan cheese or pangratatto using stale bread and past their best fresh herbs

Freshly ground black pepper



Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over a moderate heat. Add the pearl barely. Stir to coat the grains in the oil and then pour in the stock and stir well.

Bring briefly to the boil and then reduce the heat and with the lid on the pan simmer the risotto, stirring from time to time for 20 minutes by which time the pearl barley will be al dente, the liquid nearly absorbed.

Add the prepared spring or frozen vegetables and cook for about five minutes or until they are tender/warmed through. The vegetables will release their own juice so you probably wont need additional stock but do watch that the risotto isn’t sticking ot he pan at this stage.

Stir in the lemon zest and the mascarpone or yoghurt. Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt and black pepper to taste.

To finish, stir in the chopped herbs.

To serve drizzle the risotto with olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese or the pangratatto.

Left-over risotto also makes a lovely salad, served cold with additional lemon juice and olive oil stirred in.


serves 4

1/2 a ciabatta loaf,  made into coarse bread crumbs or  4-6 slices  any-type of stale bread

100ml olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled but left whole

3 tablespoons  fresh herbs (use herbs that are past their best) fresh thyme, marjoram, mint, basil, dill etc.


Heat he oil in a frying pan over a moderate hear and add the garlic clove. Cook gently until it is a deep golden colour and then remove and discard.

Add the bread crumbs to the garlic flavoured oil and cook until golden.

Stir in the chopped herbs, remove the crumbs from the heat and tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

Serve the crumbs warm in an oven proof dish.


Links to other Stirring Stuff  recipes that you might enjoy:

Harissa Spiced Chickpea and Aubergine Casserole served with Wild Garlic Naan


Whole grain basmati pilav with cashewnuts and apricot

Happy Cooking


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