barley risotto


when i was in pisa last weekend i ate a beautiful dish – farro con pesto e vongole.

i have been thinking about it all week but haven’t managed to find any farro yet, so decided to look at cooking with barley in its absence.

given the greyness of the day, i settled on a risotto using the italian sausages i’d just stocked up on at lina stores in soho. the addition of fennel seeds added extra depth to the flavour and the chewiness of the barley worked well with the sausage.

it was a perfect dish for a cold wet day and a good reintroduction to cooking with barley. give it a try if you’ve not used barley for anything other than soups and casseroles.

barley risotto with italian sausage (serves 2-3)

25g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 italian sausages, cut into chunks (as big or small as you like)

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

200g pearl barley

100ml white wine

800ml vegetable stock

25g grated parmesan

handful chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

melt the butter with the olive oil, add the onions and fry gently until they begin to soften. add the sausage and fennel seeds and fry until the sausage is cooked. add the barley and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

add the white wine and cook until almost all the liquid was evaporated. add 600ml stock and let the barley simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has absorbed almost all the liquid. taste to see if the barley is tender. if not, add more stock and keep simmering, a ladle at a time.

when it is ready, stir in the parmesan and herbs. cover and leave for a few minutes before serving.