Looking for risotto recipes? This unusual twist on risotto uses pearl barley instead of rice – just add cheese, cabbage, pine nuts and basil for a tasty and simple meal
- 250g (8oz) Cavolo Nero or Savoy cabbage
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 30g (1oz) butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 300g (10oz) pearl barley, rinsed
- 60g (2oz) pine nuts, toasted
- 30g (1oz) basil leaves
- 90g (3oz) mature Cheddar or Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any tough stems from the cabbage and cut the leaves into thin strips. Pour 1.5 litres (2½ pints) boiling water into a large pan. Bring back to the boil, stir in the cabbage and boil for 2-3 mins. Drain the cabbage in a colander over a large jug or bowl to keep the cooking water. Run cold water through the cabbage in the sink to preserve its colour. Set aside the cabbage and add the stock cubes to the cooking water.
Melt half the butter in the large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 5 mins until softened. Tip in the pearl barley and stir well to coat it in butter, then add about 150ml (¼ pint) of the stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock this way, and stirring.
With the last batch of stock, add the blanched cabbage and cook for about 5 mins until the stock has been absorbed and the cabbage is tender.
Stir in the pine nuts, torn basil leaves, remaining butter and most of the cheese. Season and serve hot, sprinkled with the rest of the cheese.
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Don't like cabbage? You can also use spring greens or any vegetable you like