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Easy Barley Risotto

What you need: 

35-50g pearl barley per person (big eaters use 50g)
600ml vegetable stock (or concentrate and water)
bay leaf
small pumpkin or medium butternut or 2-3 sweet potatoes or something that mashes well
knob margarine or 1 tablespoon oil for mashing (e.g. pumpkin seed oil)
add a chopped carrot to the stock
add cooked spinach or baby leaf spinach just before stirring in the mashed vegetable
add sautéed mushrooms
add garlic
add whatever you have in the fridge or store cupboard
throw in some seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts etc

What you do: 

Wash the barley and put into a large non-stick pan with the bay leaf and the stock. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for approx 35-40 mins, stirring occasionally, until the barley is swollen and the stock is absorbed. While the barley is cooking, peel your vegetable of choice, and cut into small cubes. Steam (or boil) until quite tender, then mash or puree with the vegan margarine/oil. Remove the bay leaf and stir the mashed vegetable into the barley. If adding mushrooms put them in now and you will get a delicious mixture of flavours. Eat while hot (but it tastes great cold the next day.)
This is a really cheap and filling dish and can be adapted endlessly. It takes no time to get on the go, and you can happily leave it to cook, unlike all the stirring in a normal rice risotto. It can also be quite nutritious, barley is a good alternative to too much wheat, and if you use pumpkin seed oil, you're looking after your essential fatty acid intake too.

Preparation Time: 
45 mins
Cooking Time: 
Recipe Category: 


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The barley grain is loaded with fiber and can even help in preventing algae in your fish tank. According to a report by the USDA, listed in Resources," barley grain can also be a great source for reducing health problems like cholesterol and high blood pressure. Growing barley straw could be the perfect addition to your garden. Thanks.
benefits of barley


This has been my first barley cooking experience, and although i'm not floored by my own culinary skills, i think i managed to hold my own here.  I was coerced into using some instant barley and vegetable stock with honey listed as an ingredient (vegans beware!), and i then eyeballed all portions.  We have leftovers!  I used most of the box of barley, about half a bunch of kale, about a cup of cashews which add some nice crunch, maybe 2/3 of a butternut squash, and a parsnip.  Needed more parsnip, squash, and bay leaf.  Next time i'll add sauteed onions and probably some soy sauce as Jade recommended.  Definitely very filling, my omnivore husband and i were both starved but could only put away a bowlful each.  A great meal for a northern winter!  Thanks!

PS, a chopped parsnip needs more than a 5 minute simmer to cook, rookie mistake on my part.


I made this recipe but didn't have squash at home so I used the next best thing: parsnips and carrots. The carrots were a little overpowering, I should definitely try this with squash next time. But it tasted wonderful anyway. I sauteed onions and garlic before adding the broth and barle to the pan to cook. I also added a tablespoon of tomato paste to the mashed veggies before adding.


made this last night with mushrooms, butternut squash and broccolini.  While we were waiting for the squash to finish cooking I tried the barley by itself and was very impressed.  With the squash, it was good, but  my husband and I both thought it was missing alittle something... alittle vinegar or soy sauce seemed to help.  Maple syrup just added too much sweetness.  Thanks for the recipe!  I never would have thought that you could barley like this!


I used butternut squash and found it to be nicely cheesy.  The squash is definitely key.

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