Barley Risotto with Lemon, Spinach and Spicy Breadcrumbs
The risotto base for this dish is relatively simple but is brought to life by the nuttiness of the barley (orzo in Italian) combined with the spicy breadcrumbs. Served with a decisive monocultivar olive oil, it comes in to its own. We used Zefiro from Frantoio Fonte di Foiano.
3 ½ tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we used Zefiro from Frantoio Fonte di Foiano in Tuscany
30g Breadcrumbs, best if you make your own
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/3 tsp Pepperoncino flakes
1 ½ tbsp Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 Lemons, zest and juice
1 lt Vegetable stock (made with carrot, celery, leek, fennel)
1 Small chopped onion
1 tbsp Thyme, roughly chopped
220g Pearl Barley
75ml Dry White Wine
200g Baby Spinach
50g Parmiggiano, grated
A few basil leaves to garnish, and seasoning of course.
Using a deep saute pan, gently warm a tablespoon and a half of olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs, 1 clove of crushed garlic and stir for about 5 mins until they begin to colour. Add the chilli, parsley and lemon zest and cook for a further couple of minutes and then set aside on a plate to cool.
Make your vegetable stock.
Using 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, back in your large saute pan, gently cook the onion for about 5 mins until it becomes translucent.. Add the thyme and remaining garlic and stir through (just half a minute) and then stir in the barley with some salt and pepper. You just need a minute to get the grains hot, then add the wine, reduce for 30 seconds and then ladle in some stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and allow the stock to absorb, stirring regularly. Then repeat, as with any risotto, adding more stock. You’re usually looking at about 40 mins for barley.
When almost done, add the spinach and allow it to just wilt. Then the parmiggiano and finally some lemon juice.
Serve the risotto in bowls and top with breadcrumbs, basil, some additional parmesan and a swirl of olive oil.