I was given some pearl barley by a friend who can no longer eat it so I've been experimenting with recipes. I've made a roasted squash orzotto that worked well, but I thought I'd try a similar approach with beetroot, for the sole reason that I wanted to eat something that was a bright purple.
This recipe serves two, but can be doubled -- or halved, I suppose -- with ease.
Stuff to Buy, Steal or Grow:
250g beetroot, trimmed, peeled and cut into thumb-sized wedges. I realise that thumbs are different sizes, but it's close enough.
1 onion, sliced.
1 garlic clove, chopped into itty bitty bits.
125g pearl barley.
400ml hot vegetable stock.
2-4 tbsp strong grated cheese. I used a mature cheddar.
1 tbsp thyme, fresh or dried.
With beetroot, you buy 500g, but once you've done peeling it and taking the stalks off, you end up with about 250g of useful matter, so bear that in mind.
How to Make It:
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Roast the beetroot in 1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil for about an hour or until soft.
About ten minutes before you take the roasted beetroot out of the oven, cook the onion in about 1 tbsp olive oil over a lowish mediumish heat until it's soft, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add the pearl barley and mix well.
Take about a third of the roasted beetroot and mash or blend into a rough mushy mess.
Mix the mushy and chopped beetroot in the pan with the onions, garlic and barley.
Add the stock, cover and simmer for between 15 and 30 minutes, until the stock is absorbed and the barley is soft. It is likely to be a bit chewier than risotto rice, so don't panic!
Stir in the thyme and a couple of tablespoons of the cheese, then serve.