Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Pecorino

Pearl Barley is something that reminds me of winter. Of hot, hearty soups with lovely big chunks of lamb and crusty bread (this recipe will feature one day soon as the weather cools more).

I have fallen in love with a few recipes lately and Magdalena Roze would definitely be up there on the top of my list. I love risotto and this variation is absolutely amazing and has such a wonderful texture that’s a little bit different to the normal risotto. This is a good meal on its on or served up with some greens and steak or lamb depending on what you fancy.

This recipe is extracted from Happy & Whole by Magdalena Roze, published by Plum, available now. Click here to find more details about this book…wish I had bought a hard copy (hint hint).

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Pecorino


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 300g (1.5 cups) pearl barley
  • 250ml (1 cup) white wine
  • 1 litre (4 cups) stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tablespoon thymes leaves, chopped
  • 400g mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g pecorino, shaved, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced


  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add 2 garlic cloves, onion, leek and nutmeg to the pan an sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the pearl barley and stir well to coat.
  4. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes until reduced slightly.
  5. Add the stock and bay leaf, partially cover and cook on a low simmer for about 40 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed.
  6. Approximately 10 minutes before the pearl barley risotto is ready, place the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in another saucepan over medium heat.
  7. Add the remaining garlic, sage and thyme and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add the mushrooms and cook until brown, soft and fragrant.
  9. When the risotto is ready, stir in the mushroom mixture, lemon zest and shaved pecorino.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.
  11. Garnish with extra pecorino, sliced chilli and fresh sage leaves.

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