After much too long without a kitchen I can cook again. I can make tea in the morning, make soup for lunch and cook a proper dinner (I don’t, for the record, do this every day but now my kitchen is there, if I feel compelled to)
Which is especially nice right now because we’re getting that first bout of bone chilling weather here in Van, and I do not want to be leaving my house for food. I want to hibernate. I want to drink hot chocolate, and apple cider, and read books and swaddle myself in knitted blankets. That’s what I want. What I also want it barley risotto.
Risotto that warms you up form the inside out on a cold night but is healthy enough that I don’t feel to guilty about eating a cookie for breakfast the next day. Risotto that’s rich and soothing and is delicious with both grilled sausages and with sauteed salmon. Risotto that is good heated up the next day because it’s not made of rice that gets soggy. Risotto that has that nuttiness and bit of chew that characterized whole grains. Risotto that is just plain really good.
2 cups pearled barley
1/2 head of fennel, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
3 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup grated parm
Bring the stock up to a boil with 2 cups of water.
Add a pinch of salt and then add in the barley and cook them to their package instructions, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile in a medium pan on medium-low heat warm up a good glug of olive oil. Add in your onions and fennel and saute until they become translucent and very fragrant.
Add in your garlic and the herbs and cook just until you can start to smell the garlic but not so that it gets any colour.
Add in the barley, the cheese and the knob of butter and stir to combine it all and check your seasoning.
And then eat this wonderful mix by itself, or serve it as a side!