Aromatic and with a rich taste, this is a delicious winter recipe! Barley is a grain indigenous to the UK and is sadly underused. So give it a go.
The risotto is nice served with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast flakes (Marigold Engevita, sold in health stores).
NB. If fresh herbs are not easily available, try combinations of dried. Tarragon goes well with mushroom, for example, so does thyme. Just remember to use half the quantity of dried herbs as they are more intense in flavour than fresh herbs.
What type of barley should I use?
It's up to you! But here's the barley low-down...
Pot barley (also known as Scotch barley) is closer to a wholegrain - less taken away so healthier. It's tasty and a bit more chewy and takes about an hour to cook, 20 minutes in a pressure cooker (but less if soaked overnight)
Pearl barley, which is more widely available, is more polished so has less of the nutrititious husk but is less chewy. It takes about 30-40 minutes to cook, 18-20 in a pressure cooker
Pearl barley - a bit more of the nutritious outer husk removed but more widely available and quicker to cook
2 tsp dried mushrooms - porcini or mixed (not shiitake)
960ml/1.75 pts/ hot vegetable stock. Whether home-made or from vegan bouillon (eg Marigold) it needs to be rich
120ml/generous 4fl oz dry sherry or white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 shallots, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
200g/7oz pot or Scotch barley (wholemeal) or pearl barley