There’s not too much pear in this dish but just enough to add a mild sweetness that brings the mushrooms to life. I love using barley for risottos as it has an extra bite to it that you just don’t get with risotto rice. Although it takes a little longer to cook, you don’t have to stand around the pan constantly stirring and you end up with the same creamy texture too. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, so I used a mixture of chestnut, button and my favorite for impact – dried porcini. You just can’t compare the flavour they add. Last minute, stir in one of the best cheeses known to man – Parmesan, with a little extra on top and you have complete indulgence in a dish!
Ingredients serves 4
- 300g barley
- 200g fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of button and chestnut)
- 20g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 onion (diced small)
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 pear (pealed and diced, removing both ends)
- 1L vegetable stock
- 70g Parmesan (some extra to grate on top)
- salt and black pepper (season to taste)
- If you have a fresh vegetable stock, then bring to the boil, turn off the heat and add the dried porcini mushrooms. If not, then add a stock cube to 1 litre of boiling water and add the porcini mushrooms. Leave to soak for around 20-30 minutes, in the meantime you can make a start with the rest of your dish.
- In a saucepan, boil the barley for 10 minutes (following package guidelines), then strain and wash under cold water thoroughly.
- With about a tbsp of oil in the pan, soften the onion and pear on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add in the garlic and mushrooms. Turn up the heat a little and mix all together, stirring for another 2-3 minutes and then lower the heat. Add the barley and stir once more until evenly mixed.
- Add the stock, using a sieve to keep out the porcini mushrooms. Put the mushrooms on a chopping board and roughly chop up into smaller pieces then add back to the risotto.
- Bring to the boil and then cover. Cook for about 40 minutes until the water has mostly disappeared and turned into a creamy texture, then stir in the Parmesan.
- Serve with a little extra Parmesan on top!