Sage and Walnut Pearl Barley Risotto with Pear Crisps

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When I first decided to the blog on herbs, I thought straight away of doing a sage risotto but then I thought, “boring! Way too main stream.”, until I started looking through my beans, pulses and grains.  I’d had the pearl barley for a while and just not got round to using it, mainly because the only thing I know about it is that it goes in soups, stews and broths.  After a bit of a search around on the internet I found a recipe online but as with most of my cooking, it wasn’t quite what I was after.  What I did take from the many recipes I read, was how much liquid I would need to weight of barley.

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I added the walnuts for the extra nutritional content, and the fact that I like walnuts anyway.  It never hurts to add a little of what you like, especially if it contains calcium, iron, vitamin C and protein!  I also happen to think that walnuts and sage go well together.  The pear crisps came about because I needed something a bit different to finish it, a little ‘dressage’ if you like. Pears and walnuts go very well together, now I just need someone to hurry up and invent vegan blue cheese to finish the trio off.

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I thought first of all about caramelising the pear slices but that was too fiddly, then I came across a recipe for sweet apple crisps and I wondered if it would work with pears, minus the sugar, with some rock salt for a contrast to the sweetness of the fruit.  They turned out better than I had imagined.  I may have have just invented a new crisp!

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SAGE AND WALNUT PEARL BARLEY RISOTTO WITH PEAR CRISPS

Feeds 2-3 people

Ingredients for the risotto

  • 15-20g coconut oil
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 30g toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1-2 tblsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 750ml stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegan Parmesan such as Violife Prosociano (as much or as little as you want)

Ingredients for the pear crisps

  • 1 pear
  • Oil for brushing (sunflower or rapeseed)
  • Rock salt

 

Method for pears

  • Turn the oven on to 200°
  • Slice the pears thinly
  • Cover two baking trays with parchment/greaseproof paper
  • Lay the pear slices on the baking sheets
  • Lightly brush each slice, on both sides, with oil
  • Place the pears in the middle of the oven
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes. At about the 20 minute mark, you will need to start keeping a very close eye on them.  Turn over as they brown (you may have to do this one or two at a time) and remove when brown on both sides.
  • Leave to cool down as they crisp up as they cool

Method for risotto

  • Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook gently for 5 minutes or until it is starting to brown
  • Add the garlic and sage, and mix through, cooking for about 1 minute
  • Tip in the barley and stir to coat well
  • Pour in the stock, bring to the boil,put a lid on and then turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 50 mins, or until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed and the pearl barley is tender but still has a bite. Add a little extra boiling water if necessary
  • Add the ‘parmesan’ and the walnuts, give the risotto a good stir, season to taste, then spoon into dishes

 

To complete

Sprinkle extra sage and more parmesan and arrange the pears on top

Serve with lightly steamed tenderstem broccoli

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