Beautiful beetroot pearl barley risotto. If you read my last post, you’ll know I’ve been truly excited about writing this one. I have recently started ordering a weekly organic veg box from Goldhill Organics, a Dorset farm that has been delivering the most beautiful organic vegetables straight to my door. They also produce a whole lot of other lovely things (fruit, meat and larder) which I can’t wait to try.
There is something ridiculously exciting about waiting for my veg box to arrive, something akin to Christmas day – the receiving of the brown box, the unwrapping and revealing of delicious goodies…it’s such a weekly treat! I have also absolutely loved the planning of recipes using this stunning produce. Goldhill Organics very helpfully publish what’s in the box each week (allowing up to three ‘swaps’) which then leads me into dreaming up delicious gastronomic concoctions.
However, as soon as I saw beetroot in last week’s box, there was to be no day-dreaming for me; straight away I knew exactly what I had to do. It could only be a risotto. And it had to be with pearl barley. The robust, earthy flavour and texture of pearl barley (as opposed to traditional arborio rice) works in perfect harmony with the deep flavours of beetroot. Just cutting the beetroot into thick wedges ready for roasting evoked the most wonderful rich, earthy, woody smell. It was fresh from the land, from Dorset, and it was perfect.
Did I mention this recipe has goat’s cheese? Yes that’s right, big creamy chunks of goat’s cheese scattered on top, along with a sprinkling of dill – a classic pairing. Apart from the incredible taste, what I love about this risotto is it’s amazing textures. There is creaminess from the goat’s cheese, the parmesan stirred in, and from the pearl barley. There are also chunkier textures which give the dish a nice bite: the chopped beetroot pieces and the al dente pearl barley (yes, creamy and firm at the same time!) which add a nice contrast.
I am completely sure that this risotto tastes especially good because it’s organic and it’s grown locally. I love that everything I cook using something from my veg box feels and tastes special. I love delighting in the simple pleasure of eating wholesome, local food grown seasonally. I can’t wait for the day that I can grow my own in a garden of my own and kiss goodbye to apartment-living. Not that this bodes particularly well, since I have managed to just about finish off my sad-looking basil pot plant by attempting to wash off the aphid infestation this morning. Maybe it’s a good thing that I stick to just cooking for now!
If you decide to make this risotto, you won’t be disappointed. Best enjoyed with a glass of red and good company.
- 500g fresh beetroot
- olive oil
- knob of butter
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 250g pearl barley
- 150ml white wine
- 700ml vegetable stock
- handful of grated parmesan
- 100g goat's cheese, chopped/crumbled
- handful of chopped dill
- Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C. Peel the beetroot and cut into large wedges (roughly quarters). Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, season. Cook for one hour until soft.
- Whilst the beetroot is cooking, (you may want to wait until halfway through) heat 1tbsp olive oil with the butter in a large pan. Tip in the shallots and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the pearl barley until well-coated with the oil and butter. Pour over the wine and let it bubble for another 5 minutes.
- Place a ladleful at a time of the vegetable stock over the pearl barley, stirring all the time. Once each ladleful is absorbed, add another. Repeat this process until the pearl barley is cooked and al dente - it should take about 20 minutes (you may not need all the stock.)
- Remove the beetroots from the oven when cooked. Place ¼ of them in a blender and whizz into a rough purée. Chop the remaining beetroot into small pieces.
- Stir the beetroot purée and pieces and the parmesan through the risotto. Taste, and season again if necessary. Serve the beetroot risotto topped with the goat's cheese and dill.