Pearl Barley Risotto with Tomatoes, Spinach and Feta

PearBarleyRisotto2I never had tried Pearl Barley before. I knew it was a new substitute for rice, and when I found this recipe for a Pearl Barley Risotto I decided that I had to try it.

I found this recipe in a cookbook I received for Christmas Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I have to admit that I am not really a recipe follower. Rather I take inspiration from different recipes, consider the method and different flavors and then adapt it to whatever I have in the fridge at the moment.

However on my blog the recipes are how I cooked them, not what the cookbook recipe said 🙂

This recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare. I was hoping that the Pearl Barley could act as a low carb rice substitute, but from looking at some of the other nutrition website it does not seem to be the case. However this dish is heavenly creamy, filling and full of flavors. I will put this in my vegetarian drawer ready for my father-in-law’s next visit.

Source: Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

Pearl Barley Risotto with Tomatoes, Spinach and Feta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Risotto
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 4
  • 200 gr pearl barley
  • 25 gr unsalted butter
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 2 small red onions diced
  • 4 garlic gloves crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 500 g passata
  • 200 gr spinach
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 300 gr feta, broken up roughly
  1. Rinse the pearl barley under cold water and leave to drain
  2. Melt the butter in a large flying pan with 2 table spoons of olive oil and fry the onions and garlic on a low heat for 5 minutes or until browned.
  3. Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, zest, chilli flakes, tomatoes, stock, passata and salt to the pan. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and leave to simmer.
  4. Leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender.
  5. Before taking the risotto off the heat stir in the spinach leafs. (They only take 2 minutes to cook).
  6. Place the feta into a bowl. Add 1 table spoon of olive oil and mix in the oregano.
  7. Once the risotto is cooked add salt and pepper if desired. Divide into bowls and top with the feta mixture.


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