Oops I did it again! You’ve seen me flout traditional risotto rules when I made Red Rice Risotto and now I’m at it… again! I’ve been experimenting with slightly healthy substitutes for Arborio rice while making risotto, mostly because risotto is the ultimate comfort food for me and I’m not quite ready to give it up in the everlasting Mumbai summer. So I’ve swapped Arborio with pearled barley, which as the name suggests, is a slightly polished version of the barley grain. If you’re thinking that this pearled barley is going to be a pain to find, then you’re in for a surprise. I picked up about two cups of pearled barley from a regular grocery store that stocks dals, grains and pulses, for a princely sum of just Rs.40! Without getting into elaborate comparisons, I think we can see this one winning the battle of being lighter on the pocket and the waistline, with no compromises in flavour!
I’d only ever eaten bits of barley floating in the Scotch Broth Soup served at Paradise, and had never really cooked it until I made this risotto. If you do manage to give barley enough soaking time, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble when you’re cooking. Give it anywhere from 6 to 12 hours of soaking time and while you’re at it, soak some cashews too! That’s rule no.2 being broken here. I know that risotto is meant to be creamy without cream, but the addition of cashew cream just seals the deal here. It adds a bit of richness without guilt, and binds the delicate lemony-herbed flavours of the risotto.
Now, let’s talk herbs… I had picked up some herbes de Provence in Paris and they’ve finally found their rightful place in this recipe. It’s just a simple herb mixture that’s typical of the Provencal region of France, sort of like how garam masala _is a typical spice mixture from India. If you can’t find it readily at stores, this Martha Stewart recipe will help you put it together in minutes (but I would suggest you leave out the lavender from Martha Stewart’s recipe). Don’t sweat if you have extra _herbes de Provence left, I’ve been using it to toss oven baked fries – makes regular fries extra delish!
Lemon-Herb Pearled Barley Risotto
Oops I did it again! You’ve seen me flout traditional risotto rules when I made Red Rice Risotto and now I’m at it… again! I’ve been experimenting with slightly healthy substitutes for Arborio rice while making risotto, mostly because r
Drain and rinse the barley. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion & cook until translucent. Add the garlic, red chilli flakes & sea salt and sauté for about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Now add the barley, coating it completely with the mixture in the pan. Allow the barley to toast for a couple of minutes, then add the wine and stir. When nearly all of the wine has been absorbed by the barley, add 1 cup of the vegetable stock and let it cook over a slow simmer. The remaining stock should be added only in half- cup increments, only when the liquid appears to have been absorbed by the barley. You will need to keep stirring to avoid the grains from getting stuck to the pan.
In the meantime, drain and rinse the cashews with water. Use the small jar of your blender to blitz it with about 4 to 5 tablespoons of filtered water until the nuts have completely broken down and the cashews & water blend together to form a creamy texture. Set aside.
When you add the last cup of vegetable stock, immediately add the lemon juice & herbes de Provence & stir to combine. You will have to taste to check if the barley has cooked, it will plump up a bit and will be chewy in texture. Once the barley has cooked & absorbed the last addition of vegetable stock, turn off the heat and stir in the cashew cream & arugula leaves to combine. Check for seasoning & serve immediately.
When you add the last cup of vegetable stock, immediately add the lemon juice herbes de Provence stir to combine
You will have to taste to check if the barley has cooked, it will plump up a bit and will be chewy in texture
Once the barley has cooked absorbed the last addition of vegetable stock, turn off the heat and stir in the cashew cream arugula leaves to combine