Orzotto (Barley Risotto) | Dani Valent

Orzotto (Barley Risotto)

The winter-friendly risotto made with barley

I love barley, especially in winter, when those nutty, wholesome grains call to me with a song of nourishment, fortification and cosiness. I’m even more focused on barley at the moment because China has slapped an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports. I thought we better help the farmers by eating A LOT of barley.

Orzo is Italian for ‘barley’ and when you make a risotto with it, it’s called orzotto. It’s a specialty of the north-eastern part of Italy close to Venice. I file orzotto in the ‘fun to say’ camp along with poke, furikake and genfo (also made with barley, by the way!)

Orzo also means a very short pasta that is shaped like barley – this recipe uses the actual grain, not the pasta named after the grain. Hope that’s clear!

Orzotto is as versatile as risotto so think of this as a base recipe that you can adapt, just as you would risotto. It’s a great ‘bottom of the fridge’ meal.

Serves: 4-6
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp flaked salt
  • 1 brown onion, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 150 grams (5 oz) celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 250 grams (9 oz) pearl barley
  • 50 grams (2 oz) white wine, optional (any white wine is OK)
  • 900 grams (32 oz) water (or stock)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock paste (if not using stock)
  • Parmesan or grana padano, grated, to serve
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

Thermomix method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Place cauliflower on a baking tray and toss with olive oil and ½ tsp flaked salt. Toss after 15 minutes and continue to roast until golden brown.
  2. Place onion, garlic, celery and zucchini in mixing bowl and chop 5 sec/speed 5. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl, ensuring mixture is consistently chopped. Chop for a further 2 sec/speed 5 if necessary.
  3. Add ½ tsp salt and 50 grams (2 oz) olive oil. Cook 5 min/100°C (212°F)/speed 1.
  4. Add barley and wine. Cook 2 min/100°C (212°F) /speed 1.
  5. Add water and stock paste. Scrape base of mixing bowl. Cook 35 min/100°C (212°F)/speed 1.5 or until orzotto is thick but pourable and barley is cooked but still nutty.
  6. Pour into serving bowls. Top with roasted cauliflower and grated cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with pepper.

Traditional method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F).
  2. Place cauliflower on a baking tray and toss with olive oil and ½ tsp flaked salt. Toss after 15 minutes and continue to roast until golden brown.
  3. Finely dice onion, garlic, celery and zucchini and saute in a large pot that has a lid with ½ tsp salt and 50 grams (2 oz) olive oil until translucent and soft.
  4. Add barley and wine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until barley grains are glossy.
  5.  Add water and stock paste. Stir. Place lid over pot and allow to come to a simmer. Stir and remove lid. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until orzotto is thick but pourable and barley is cooked but still nutty.
  6. Pour into serving bowls. Top with roasted cauliflower and grated cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with pepper.

Tips

  • Add 100 grams (3.5 oz) chopped pancetta to saute with vegetables.
  • Add 100 grams (3.5 oz) sliced mushrooms along with the stock.
  • Add 100 grams (3.5 oz) peas just before barley is fully cooked.
  • Instead of cauliflower, try roasted sweet potato, capsicum or eggplant.
  • Top with pan-fried croutons and chorizo.

More about this recipe

Try these other great barley recipes: Lamb Shank & Barley Casserole and Genfo.

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