Back when I wasn't too concerned about eating high starch foods, risotto featured regularly at family mealtimes. Chicken, mushooms, butternut squash, smoked haddock, asparagus and lemon have all fallen under the spell of risotto rice from arborio to carnaroli. It's no surprise that it features on our 2015 list of meals on rotation.

This week my meal plan banked on the beef brisket leaving enough left over to try my hand at a beef hash. Sadly the joint was either too measly or my bunch were hungrier than usual. Either way a hash wasn't happening. Consequently my planned meal for Tuesday became Monday's dinner, Wednesday's became Tuesday's and today I was left having to think about what to cook.

Conscious of our need to up our number of veggie dishes, I decided to make mushrooms the star of the evening and try to use what was available in our store cupboard. (I did have to nip out to pick up some chestnut mushrooms and flat leaf parsley). While I've called it a risotto, I also chose to swap out risotto rice for pearl barley to give the dish added fibre.


200g Chestnut mushrooms, chopped
30g Dried wild mushrooms (hydrated according to the packet instructions, dried and chopped)
180g Chestnuts
200g Pearl barley (cook according to the packet instructions, removing from the heat and straining 20 minutes before ready)
500ml Vegetable boullion
500ml Strained mushroom juice (from dried mushrooms)
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed  
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chestnut mushrooms and chestnuts.

Add the pearl barley and 200ml of the mushroom juice and 200ml of the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes, topping up the stock and juice as it's soaked up by the barley.

Once the barley is plump and chewy serve topped with parmesan and parsley.