Barley is often overlooked in modern cooking, but has been grown in Britain for longer than records exist and is only outstripped by wheat in terms of UK cereal production. The Italian orzotti (or barley risotto) is the inspiration for this dish with the barley grains retaining a lovely nutty texture on cooking. Asparagus is in the veg box at the moment, but the season doesn’t last long so get cooking!
Recipe- serves 2
- 150g asparagus
- ½ onion
- 1tbs cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- Small bunch of mint chopped
- 150g pearled barley
- 550ml stock (1 pot)
- 75g hard goats cheese
- Chop the asparagus leaving the tips whole and the stalks into 3cm pieces.
- Meanwhile make up the stock in a pan adding the bay leaf and keep on a low simmer.
- Fry your onion and crushed garlic in a separate pan in some butter or olive oil for 5 minutes until the onion looks translucent.
- Add the barley grains and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes to coat in the garlicky butter and warm the grains
- Add the vinegar and sizzle and then add a ladleful of stock, stirring until no more liquid can be seen then add the stock a ladleful at a time stirring often until the stock is absorbed.
- It should take about 25 minutes to cook the barley, it should have a bit of firmness to it but not be crunchy at all. If you run out of liquid before this you can add a splash more boiling water to the orzotti after you have finished adding the stock.
- Meanwhile place asparagus in a pan of boiling water and boil rapidly for a few minutes. Drain and cool.
- Add the asparagus and almost all the grated cheese stirring through to melt, reserving a little cheese arrange on the top when you serve along with the chopped mint.