“This vegetarian main course is a dish everybody loves, particularly children,” write Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi in Jerusalem. “Unlike the proper Italian risotto, ours does not require the exact precision and meticulous preparation, but still tastes sensational.”
Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small celery stalks, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 2 small shallots, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 thyme sprigs
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 strips lemon peel
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- Scant 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1¼ cups sieved tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 10 ounces feta cheese, broken roughly into ¾-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
Rinse the pearl barley well under cold water and leave to drain.
Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a very large frying pan and cook the celery, shallots, and garlic over gentle heat for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, stock, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the risotto does not catch on the bottom of the pan. When ready, the barley should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.
Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes, then lightly crush them. Add them to the feta with the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and gently mix to combine.
Once the risotto is ready, check the seasoning and then divide it among four shallow bowls. Top each with the marinated feta, including the oil, and a sprinkling of oregano leaves.
Yield: 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi‘‘s and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
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