Recipe: Pearl Barley Risotto with dried mushrooms & sugar snap peas

Leon-fast-vegetarianIt’s such a treat when a really top-notch new veggie cookbook pops through the letterbox for review.  As soon as I heard that Leon were planning to add a vegetarian book to their series I knew it would be a corker – most pages of my copy of their Baking and Puddings* book are stuck together with cake mix or bread dough, which is always a good sign.

And Leon: Fast Vegetarian* doesn’t disappoint – I’m not sure what I love more; the simple but vibrant recipes using the very best in seasonal veggie ingredients, or the quirky and endearing design – each page is scattered with childhood photos, lovely stories about where the recipes came from, beautiful photography and artwork.

This pearl barley risotto was a hit in our house.  The barley has a lovely nutty and slightly chewy texture, and whilst I would usually chuck a stock cube into a risotto, this contains no stock – just white wine, lemon juice and porcini juice which gives the finished dish a really clean but deep savoury flavour.  Super-tasty – do give this one a try as a quick and delicious midweek supper.

Many thanks to the authors and publishers Octopus Books for their permission to reproduce the recipe below.  

Recipe: Pearl Barley Risotto with dried mushrooms & sugar snap peas
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main
Author: from Leon: Fast Vegetarian
  • 30 g dried mushrooms such as porcini
  • 750 ml boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek chopped
  • 200 g pearl barley washed and drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 200 ml white wine
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 150 g sugar snap peas trimmed and cut diagonally into strips
  • a knob of butter optional
  • 25 g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Put the mushrooms into a bowl and pour over the boiling water.  Leave to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion and leek and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop finely.  Add to the vegetables along with the pearl barley, then turn up the heat, season well and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the lemon juice, white wine and rosemary sprig to the pan, season well, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Now start to add the mushroom liquid about a ladleful at a time.  Turn the heat down but make sure the mixture is simmering gently at all times.  Keep stirring occasionally and adding mushroom liquid, so that the mixture does not stick to the pan.  If you run out of mushroom liquid, use boiling water.
  5. When the barley is cooked but still has a chewy texture (about 20 minutes), add the sugar snaps, butter and half the Parmesan.  remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then season well and serve with the remaining Parmesan sprinkled over.

Make it Vegan: Just substitute the butter with dairy-free margarine, and omit the parmesan cheese.

Pearl Barley Risotto 2

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