PHS editor and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles shares one of her favourite recipes -- Barley and Tomato Risotto.
I will admit to really liking barley. It has a nutty taste and is full of fibre and can be used really wherever you are going to use rice or quinoa. It is also much cheaper. It surprises me that it isn't more often. Roman gladiators used to be called barley crunchers as they loved it. I first started cooking barley when I was writing my Ancient Roman books and wanted to experience why the Romans were so fond of the grain.
Anyway this is a wonderfully warming dish which you can set cooking and then forget about for a bit.
200 g (8 oz) barley rinsed (pearl or pot doesn't matter)
1 onion, diced small
4 cloves of garlic minced.
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
4 strips of lemon rind
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 400 g (1 lb) tin of chopped tomatoes (half of which have been pureed in the blender)
700 ml ( 1 pint) of stock.
Cook onion and garlic with a little olive oil ( I do this with a little stock instead of the oil) in large frying pan until soft. It takes about five minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients plus about a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and reduce heat to a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom. The barley will be tender and most of the water absorbed.
Top with a sprinkling of caraway seeds, a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. If you eat dairy, you can put crumbled Lanchasire or feta cheese on top as well.