Pearl Barley and Roasted Beetroot Risotto

This technically isn’t a risotto at all as it uses pearl barley instead of rice, but the method is the same and it’s a great, lighter alternative to a classic dish. The roasted beetroot gives it a wonderful earthy flavour and fantastic colour: combined with the nuttiness of the barley it’s just the thing for an Autumn evening.

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Ingredients (serves 2):
– 500g beetroot
– 25g butter
– 6 shallots, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– 150g pearl barley
– 120ml white wine
– 750ml vegetable stock
– 50g parmesan, grated
– 1tsp fresh thyme leaves
– salt and pepper

1. Begin by heating the oven to 200°C. Peel the beetroot and chop into small chunks (you will end up looking like a serial killer… roll with it, and don’t wear too nice a top), then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir before putting into the oven for 45 minutes.

2. Melt most of the butter in a large pan or wok, then cook the shallots and garlic in it for 5-8 minutes until soft and beginning to colour.

3. Add the barley and cook for a few minutes before pouring in the wine. Allow this to bubble and be mostly absorbed by the barley before beginning to add the stock, about a ladle at a time. Once you begin with the stock you need to stir it a lot to make sure the liquid’s absorbed rather than evaporated – the whole process should take about half an hour.

4. Stir in the parmesan, thyme, roasted beetroot and remaining butter. Season to taste and serve with garlic bread.

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