Apart from knowing you’re enjoying ingredients grown in-season, this recipe is packed full of prebiotics for good gut health. Asparagus, for example, is full of something called fructooligosaccharides (or FOS) which feed the good gut bacteria. And pearl barley is rich in resistant starch, another important prebiotic. It takes longer to cook than a regular risotto, which uses arborio rice, but your healthy gut bacteria will thank you!
Makes four serves. Each serve is approximately 2008 kilojoules (480 calories).
2 bunches asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-3cm pieces
1 cup green peas, podded
1 ½ litres low-sodium vegetable stock
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g (approx. 1 ½ cups) pearl barley, rinsed
¼ cup shaved parmesan
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon
- Firstly, steam your asparagus for 2-3 minutes until bright green but still slightly crunchy. Add the peas, steam for a further minute, then remove and run under cool water to prevent them from cooking further. Strain these vegetables and place to one side for now.
- Meanwhile, heat the stock in a large pot over a medium heat until simmering.
- In a separate, heavy-based, wide pan, heat the olive oil over a low-medium heat, and then fry the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes until soft and translucent, but not browned.
- Add the barley to the pan, then pour in 500ml of the hot stock. You’ll need to keep the risotto at a medium simmer, stirring it occasionally, and watch that it doesn’t dry out. As soon as the barley absorbs most of the liquid, add another cup of simmering stock. Keep repeating this process until all the stock is used and the barley is soft and plump. This will take at least an hour. Pearl barley, once cooked, will still be a little chewier than a risotto made with arborio rice, but if you run out of stock and the barley’s still not quite cooked through, just add a little boiling water (or some extra stock, if you’ve got it) and keep going until you’re happy with the consistency.
- Remove from the heat, then mix through the asparagus and peas. Stir through the parmesan and let the residual heat melt it through the risotto.
- Serve with sea salt and black pepper, fresh mint, and grated lemon zest.