This vegetarian pearl barley risotto recipe is perfect for Spring! Filled with seasonal vegetables, including asparagus, spring greens and peas, and then flavored with a little white wine, parmesan and chives, this risotto recipe is full of flavour! Pearl barley risotto is a great alternative to traditional risotto that is wonderfully light while being highly nutritious.
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- Nutritional Information
- The Ingredients
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is pearl barley gluten-free?
- How to store pearl barley risotto:
- How to reheat pearl barley risotto:
- How to freeze pearl barley risotto:
- What to serve with pearl barley risotto?
- What is the difference between pot barley and pearl barley?
- Do you need to soak pearl barley before cooking?
- Watch the Video
- If you like this recipe you might also like…
- How to Make Pearl Barley Risotto with Spring Vegetables
Ever since I made my Winter Vegetable Soup with Barley and Parmesan in January I’ve been thinking of ways I can incorporate more pearl barley recipes into my life. This wonderfully nutty and nutritious little grain is full of flavour and nutritious good stuff; it’s worth trying to eat it a little more regularly.
Pearl barley is a fantastic source of fibre and protein. This means the body digests it slowly and keeps you feeling fuller for longer! Plus its nutty flavour and slightly chewy texture make it a welcome change from the typical rice and quinoa grains we so often see in our meals these days.
On top of all of that SPRING IS OFFICIALLY HERE! And with it comes an abundance of fresh green veggies to celebrate the warmth and sunshine. To me, nothing screams Spring like asparagus. In this risotto recipe, the asparagus is added towards the end of cooking, giving it an al dente texture and retaining its delicate
While pearl barley is not quite as healthy as hulled barley due to the fibre containing bran being removed during processing, pearl barley still packs in lots of nutrition. It still provides us with some fibre, which is important for a healthy gut, as well as iron and thiamine. We need iron for the production of haemoglobin in our blood cells, while thiamine is required for releasing energy from the carbohydrates in our diet.
Peas are another ingredient in this recipe that are a good source of thiamine. Peas also provide us with vitamin C, a vitamin with antioxidant properties that is required for the production of collagen in the body.
Spring greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, a micronutrient essential for normal blood clotting. They also contain vitamin C and iron.
The asparagus provides is with a range of nutrients, notably folate and vitamin K. Folate is required, along with vitamin B12, for the production of red blood cells. It is also needed for normal cell division and structure of the nervous system. Vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting.
Parmesan – Use fresh parmesan that hasn’t been pre-grated for the best flavour. You could also use grana padano for a similar flavour. If you want to keep this recipe vegan, omit the parmesan or add in nutritional yeast to taste.
Chives – Chives compliment the flavours of the leeks well in this recipe. If you can’t get chives you can omit them.
Pearl Barley – Pearl barley is the star ingredient in this recipe! It provides a delicate nutty flavour and has a somewhat chewy texture. I have used the pearled variety, but you could use hulled/pot barley instead. If you do, you will need to soak the pot barley overnight and it may take a little longer to cook.
Leek – Leeks add a wonderfully delicate flavour to the base of this pearled barley risotto. You could substitute for one white onion if you can’t get leeks.
Asparagus – I’ve used standard green asparagus in this recipe, but the purple or white varieties would also work. While there’s nothing else quite like asparagus out there, if you were looking for a substitute for asparagus, try tender stem broccoli or green beans.
Peas – I always have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, but fresh peas work just as well. If you don’t have peas, edamame beans would also work!
Spring greens – Substitutes for spring greens would include cabbage or kale. Collard greens would also work if you are in the US.
White wine – You definitely don’t have to use wine if you don’t want to or you don’t have any. Wine adds depth of flavour, but this barley risotto still tastes delicious without it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pearl barley gluten-free?
Pearl barley contains gluten, therefore it is not appropriate for people with coeliac disease.
How to store pearl barley risotto:
Allow the pearl barley risotto to cool to room temperature for no longer than two hours.
Transfer the risotto to an air-tight Tupperware container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
How to reheat pearl barley risotto:
Transfer the pearl barley risotto to a saucepan or casserole pot with a few tablespoons of water. Heat on a medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the risotto is piping hot all the way through.
Alternatively, you could reheat the pearl barley risotto using a microwave. Microwave for approximately 3 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the risotto is piping hot. Cooking time will vary depending on the power of your microwave.
How to freeze pearl barley risotto:
Once the risotto has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, where it can be stored for up to three months.
To defrost, transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge and leave it to thaw – this can take up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave.
What to serve with pearl barley risotto?
This pearl barley risotto is substantial enough on its own. However, you could pair it with a protein of your choice, such as roasted chicken, salmon or cod. Otherwise, a simple green salad would also work!
What is the difference between pot barley and pearl barley?
Pot barley has been processed only so the outer husk is removed, but the bran layer remains intact. Pearl barley has been processed further to remove the bran layer. Pot barley is more nutritious due to having an intact bran layer, but requires soaking and takes longer to cook. While pearl barley is less nutritious but quicker to cook.
Do you need to soak pearl barley before cooking?
You don’t need to soak pearl barley before cooking. However, if you were using pot barley you should soak it overnight.
Watch the Video
If you like this recipe you might also like…
- Winter Vegetable Soup with Barley and Parmesan
- Pea & Asparagus Risotto with Bacon
- Herb and Lemon Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes
- Charred Spring Onion Tart with Ricotta and Cheddar
- Pea and Salmon Fishcakes
- Farro Risotto with Corn and Tomatoes from The Kitchn
How to Make Pearl Barley Risotto with Spring Vegetables
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This simple pearl barley risotto is full of fresh Spring vegetables and flavours! It is easy to throw together and doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease, plus is lighter than the rice version – what’s not to love!
- A knob of butter or 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 200 grams (1 cup) pearl barley, dried
- 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) white wine
- 1.25 litres (5 cups) vegetable stock
- 100 grams asparagus, cut into quarters
- 150 grams peas, fresh or frozen
- 100 grams spring greens
- 20 grams (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 tablespoons chives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a casserole pot heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Saute the sliced leeks for 5 minutes until they have softened.
- Add the pearl barley to the pot and stir to combine. Pour in the white wine and cook for around 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the alcohol has cooked out.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pot. Stir everything to combine and leave to simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pearl barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If the mixture begins to dry out, add a little water. The final consistency should creamy and a little loose. If the mixture is too wet, cook for a few more minutes until more of the liquid has evaporated.
- Stir the asparagus, peas and spring greens into the risotto and cook for 3-4 minutes until the asparagus is just tender.
- Add the parmesan, lemon juice and chives. Stir to combine then taste. Add salt and pepper as required. Serve in bowls with grated parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped chives. Enjoy!
Keywords: Risotto, Pearl Barley Risotto, Pearl Barley Recipe, Barley Risotto, Spring Vegetable Risotto, Asparagus Risotto