Spring-in-your-step barley risotto

Spring-in-your-step barley risotto

The Medicinal Chef: Healthy Every Day
Martin Poole

I’m a real fan of risottos, and I love substituting pearl barley for the usual Arborio rice. Not only does it give you a new texture, but it also ups the nutritional profile of the dish. It takes slightly longer to cook than a regular risotto, but it’s so worth the wait.


Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
500g pearl barley
750ml vegetable stock, plus extra as needed
6 large leaves swiss chard, shredded
8 spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt
black pepper


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan, add the onions and garlic and cook for 4–5 minutes, until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  2. Add the pearl barley and 200 ml vegetable stock. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is nearly absorbed, and continue adding stock every few minutes, as if you were making a normal risotto.
  3. Continue cooking until the barley has softened and the dish begins to take on a creamy texture. At this stage, season with salt and pepper, add the chard and continue cooking until it wilts. Finally, stir in the spring onions, Parmesan and a little more stock, and serve immediately.

Good for:

  • High cholesterol; constipation and healthy gut flora

Star ingredient:

  • Pearl barley is quite an important addition to the cholesterol-lowering arsenal. It contains a compound called propionic acid, which has been shown in animal studies to reduce an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which is involved in synthesising cholesterol. Its high fibre content also helps carry cholesterol out of the body via the bowel.
The Medicinal Chef
Healthy Every Day
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