I seriously do not know how you Pacific North-westerners do it. We’ve been at least a week without sun. It’s been grey & damp & drizzly. Dismal, really.
I think we’re finally getting a reprieve toward the end of the week, but to make the best of the damp, colder than usual weather (seriously? Is it really May?) we’re working in one more round of soups & comfort food before we have the ungodly heat & humidity to contend with.
This recipe comes from Jerusalem, a cookbook we’ve been completely enamored with since it’s release back in October. It’s a hearty twist on risotto, that uses barley instead arborio rice, that’s just as delicious & warming as the classic, but not nearly as rich. Perfect for an unseasonably cold day in May.
BARLEY RISOTTO WITH MARINATED FETA
1 cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
4 strips of lemon peel
pinch of chile flakes
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
10 oz feta cheese, roughly crumbled
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
Pour all the barley into a fine mesh strainer & rinse well under cold water. Set aside to drain.
In a Dutch oven, or other large pan, heat the butter & 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, shallots & garlic & cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chile flakes, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock & crushed tomatoes, stirring to combine. Add a big pinch of salt. Bring everything to a boil, reduce to a simmer & cook, stirring frequently to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. After about 45 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed & the barley should be tender. If it’s not quite ready, add a bit more vegetable stock & simmer longer.
While the risotto cooks, mix the peppercorns & feta in a small bowl. Swirl in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, gently mix & set aside.
When the barley is tender, check for seasoning. Divide the risotto among serving dishes, top with the feta & oil mixture & sprinkle minced oregano over top. Dig in.
very slightly adapted from Jerusalem