Friday Food: Ottolenghi Barley Risotto

Happy Friday everyone!

We’ve got vegetarians coming for dinner next Thursday, and in honour of them I will be making Yotam Ottolenghi barley, tomato and garlic risotto.  This recipe is one tracked down after Mr C-S and I had been out to dinner, to a lovely restaurant, with a big group of people. Some of the guests we knew, some we didn’t.  One woman we hadn’t met before (our friends are mostly used to us) ordered a barley risotto, and barely touched it.   There it sat, looking creamy and amazing.  Mr C-S nudged me in the ribs.  I nudged him back.  Say it! He said. You say it! I said.  Finally, a waitress came and cleared the table.  Was there something wrong with your risotto? She asked.  No, said the woman, it was gorgeous, I’m just not very hungry.  Mr C-S and I watched as the waitress took it back to the kitchen.  He sighed.  All you had to say to her, he said to me in mournful tones, all you had to say, and then I could have tried it, was ‘are you going to eat that?’

A quick google the following morning turned up the following recipe on the Guardian website.  Now that I’ve made it quite a few times, I add in two small onions and am generous with the lemon zest and chilli powder, but I’d suggest sticking pretty closely to the set quantities the first time around.


3 tbsp olive oil, plus an extra trickle at the end
2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and quartered
750g fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
200g passata
½ tsp smoky paprika
⅛ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp picked thyme
4 strips fresh lemon zest
1½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
270g pearl barley, well rinsed in cold water and drained
Roughly 200ml water
20g chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
Black pepper
200g feta, crumbled roughly

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the garlic quarters for about two minutes, or until golden. Add the tomatoes, passata, paprika, chilli, thyme, lemon zest, sugar, salt, barley and a ladleful of water; stir and bring the mix to a simmer. Cook over minimal heat for 50-60 minutes, until the barley is tender but still firm to the bite. You’ll need to stir it from time to time, so it doesn’t stick to the pan, and add water occasionally, making sure there is always just enough liquid left in the pot to cook the barley. At the end of the cooking, the mix should be runny enough easily to spoon into bowls.

Once done, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the coriander and some freshly ground black pepper. Add most of the feta, stir gently so the cheese doesn’t break up too much and stays in largish chunks, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle with the reserved feta and coriander, and drizzle over a little olive oil.

I promise that this isn’t nearly as fiddly as it may seem, and it will satisfy even the most ardent of meat lovers.  Or risotto-made-from-rice lovers, come to that.  It’s become a real healthy comfort food in our house.  What’s your best comfort food recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

Love, Gemma C-S

Friday Food: Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto

This week’s Friday food has been sent in by Laura, who teased us with her plans for haddock and leek risotto in last week’s comments section. I love Italian food and there’s something so soothing about risotto, the comfort carbs and strong flavours, yet this take on it is perfect for this time of year. Greens for spring and fish to keep it light, yet it’s like a big hug in a bowl for the still-cold winter nights.

Although risotto takes a bit of time for a midweek meal, I find you can make it in about 30 minutes and if you’re happy to chat to your other half with a glass of wine in hand, time passes quickly enough 🙂

Florence’s tip: Stir the rice lots, it helps bash the grains about and makes the sauce thicker.

Image Credit: Annie Eats

400g smoked haddock
4 leeks – thinly sliced
300g risotto rice (my favourite is carnaroli)
1 glass dry white wine
Jug full of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
Couple of handfuls of peas (optional)


  • Put the haddock in a deep frying pan, cover with water/milk (depending how you like yours poached). Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat and leave it for 5-10mins. Take out of the liquid and flake into decent-sized chunks.
  • Meanwhile, put a large knob of butter in a saucepan and add the leeks. Cook slowly for 15 minutes until completely softened.
  • Turn up the heat, add the rice and stir to coat the grains.
  • Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed.
  • Add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring each lot in, until the rice is just tender and creamy (you might not need to use all the stock).
  • About 5 mins before the end add the peas.
  • Just before serving add the haddock and stir through to heat.
  • Serve with chopped parsley on top.

Once you have mastered a basic risotto base you can switch it for all kinds of ingredients too. Some of my favourites include smoked mackerel, prawns, bacon lardons and roast chicken sliced on top, or asparagus or mushroom for veggies.

As always, do send in your Friday Food recipe suggestions to marked SUBMISSION and thanks Laura!


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