• TheGunnChowderPot

Spicy tomato pearl barley risotto

So good there was ‘barley’ any left

This spicy tomato risotto made with pearl barley is a great alternative if the supermarket is all our of risotto rice or if you're just a bit fed up with white rice. The bold spicy flavours make this a delicious option for dinner and by removing the cheese and checking your red wine, it can easily be made vegan.

The Recipe

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 1 hour


1 tbsp oil for frying

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 aubergine, chopped into 1 cm chunks

250g mushrooms, chopped into 1 cm chunks

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chipotle paste

2 tbsp red wine

1 tbsp tomato puree

250g pearl barley

1 400g can chopped tomatoes

750ml vegetable stock

40g basil, roughly chopped

30g pine nuts, toasted

30g sun dried tomatoes

100g vegetarian Parmesan, grated

70g rocket

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Start by heating you oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and golden brown, this should take about 5 minutes. Next add the aubergine and mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes. Once the veg has softened, add the garlic, spices and chipotle paste and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

2. Next, add the pearl barley and fry for 1-2 minutes, allowing the flavours to coat each grain and pour in the red wine that will help take some of the rich flavours off the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and ¼ of the vegetable stock, allowing the pearl barley to absorb the liquid. Slowly add the remaining stock in small sections until all the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Serve the risotto with the rocket, cheese, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes and sprinkle with some fresh basil.

5. Serve and enjoy!


*Pine nuts can be relatively expensive but offer a nice crunch to the meal but you can add toasted pumpkin seeds for the same added crunch.

*If you don’t have any chipotle paste, you can use 1 tsp of chilli powder for that added heat, adjusting the quantity depending on how spicy you like your meals.


*Make sure that you don’t allow your pan to get too hot as you want the pearl barley to absorb the liquid rather than it evaporate off.

*The pearl barley should have a slight bite to it as you don’t want it to become too soft and lose its texture.

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