This is a partnered post.
If, like me, you are more likely to associate risotto with the typical cooler months than with July, then you may be surprised to see this recipe.
A proper risotto does after all involve standing over a hot stove, attending a gently bubbling pot until the requisite creaminess is attained – not something to be recommended when you are already a bit hot and bothered.
But many of us in the UK are right now dodging in and out of blustery, hair-mussing showers, shivering in our sandals and sleeveless tanks. Was it ever thus.
Tucking into a steaming bowl of risotto in these circumstances somehow doesn’t seem so odd. It is not cold, but what with the wind, the rain and the current low mood of much of the country (Brexit, political parties in upheaval, England’s ignominious football World Cup – go Wales!, wet Wimbledon, etc), comfort food is called for. Healthy, nurturing comfort food.
Nutrient-rich Tenderstem® * is in season until November, and is absolutely perfect in this carefree, bung-it-in-the oven barley risotto. You can certainly use risotto rice, but I would then say to do the stirring on the stove thing instead of the easy-peasy baking thing. Barley is grown here in Scotland and I am feeling a bit more Scottish these days, despite my US passport.
We aren’t giving up on salads (never!), merely pandering a bit to the weather and national vibe. But even if you are feeling on top of the world, a risotto may sound good to you. Eat it in the garden, in your shorts, with a glass of cold white wine. And think of us, up North, wrapped in our raincoats.
* Tenderstem ® is a long-stemmed cross between the best traits of Chinese kale and traditional broccoli. It is mild compared to broccoli, tasting not unlike asparagus, and can be eaten raw. Nutrition-wise it has twice the amount of vitamin C per 100g compared to oranges, with oodles of vitamin A and potassium, as well as being a great source of calcium, iron and B6. We absolutely love it! If you want to know all of the different places where it is grown in the UK, check this interactive Tenderstem ® map.
Note: If you are reading this on the “bot site” Easy Low Cal Recipes, or any other site, this is without my permission and against my express wishes.
Baked Barley Risotto with Tenderstem® Broccoli
Delicate, nutritious Tenderstem® broccoli is perfect in this season-spanning baked risotto. If however you can’t get this British ingredient, do use ordinary broccoli or even asparagus, which this mild variety actually tastes quite like. Spelt or risotto rice can be used in place of the barley, but do use the traditional stove-top method for the latter. Juicy, in-season Scottish langoustines (aka Dublin Bay prawns) – bathed in garlic butter – are an optional garnish. This risotto is not going to be creamy like a starchy rice one, but truthfully I prefer barley and spelt risottos to rice ones. xx
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or Scottish cold-pressed rapeseed oil
6 spring onions, chopped OR 1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
225g (1 & 1/4 cups) pearled barley, spelt or risotto rice
50ml white wine
250g (1/2 lb) Tenderstem®, small dice and include the stems as it is a leggy broccoli with full flavour in the stems
750ml light vegetable stock (homemade or a quality one like Marigold Swiss brand)
Handful chopped parsley
Optional garnish: 6 cooked, prepped and shelled langoustines; 2 tbsp butter; 2 cloves garlic, minced; small pinch each celery seed and sweet paprika (these are nice optional extras); palmful of chopped parsley and a little lovage if you have the latter in the garden. If you don’t eat seafood, please consider just doing the garlic butter as a finish for each serving of risotto – highly recommended!!
1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. Heat the oil in a large, lidded, oven-proof pan. I used a wide, enamelled cast-iron pan, but any heavy, oven-proof pot will do. If it doesn’t have a lid then improvise with doubled aluminium foil. Add the onions and cook gently until softened; add the bay leaves and garlic, cooking a further 30 seconds before pouring in the rice and stirring to coat. Turn up the heat slightly.
3. Add in the wine and stir until it has mostly absorbed. Add the hot stock and bring to a simmer. Pop on the pan lid and place in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes.
4. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and stir in the broccoli. Pop the lid back on and return to the oven, cooking for a further 10 minutes. If when adding the Tenderstem® you judge that the risotto is cooking rather quickly, add a little more stock. Trust your judgement. It’s not a cake, so you won’t ruin it. If at the end it looks too wet for you, just leave it in a little longer. It should be fine as is though, but this depends a bit on the age of the barley.
5. Just before you wish to serve the risotto, heat the butter in a saute pan and add the garlic and spices, if using. Heat for 30 seconds then add the cooked langoustines, turning over in the hot garlicky butter until just browned. Add in the parsley and optional lovage and serve atop the risotto, pouring over any remaining butter.
This is a partnered post. As always all thoughts, opinions and recommendations are honestly given.
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