Risotto is always a winner in our house, as is pearl barley, so this barley risotto is just a perfect combination. What's more, you don't need to stand over it like a traditional hob-top risotto so it's a great weeknight meal, assuming you have a wee bit of time for it to cook away.
Pearl barley (I used about half a bag for 2 adults & 2 children)
Dried herbs of choice (I used dried onion & chive from My Secret Kitchen)
1 stock cube (I used chicken stock)
Smoked sea salt & pepper
Full fat cream cheese (I used a plain one but other flavours would work well)
Vegetables to roast (I used sweet potato, red pepper, courgette, carrot)
Hazelnut oil (other oils would work just as well)
Cover the pearl barley with cold water in a saucepan, add some dried herbs, a stock cube and seasoning then cover with a lid and simmer for 90 minutes until the barley has absorbed the water and is plump but with a slight bite. Check on it every now and then to ensure its not drying-out and add a little water if it looks like it needs it.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for roasting. The carrots and sweet potato take the longest to cook. Arrange the carrots and sweet potato on one tray and the courgette and peppers on another. Drizzle with some hazelnut oil and sprinkle with seasoning and fresh rosemary. The carrots and sweet potato will need about 45 minutes and the courgette and peppers about 20 minutes at 180 degrees in a fan oven. If they're ready before the barley just keep them warm in some foil.
Once the barley is cooked add a generous dollop of cream cheese and stir through to achieve a creamy consistency.
Serve the barley risotto in bowls topped with the roasted vegetables.