Fennel and Lemon Pearl Barley Risotto

Fennel and lemon pearl barley risotto

It’s the 1st of June , summer is here so I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes. I love risotto and I love making it, for me it is very therapeutic listening to music, having a glass of wine and spending 30 minutes to an hour stirring the risotto. If I still lived in Edinburgh I would use spelt as that is my favourite grain to make risotto but pearl barley is a close second.

The first time I had a spelt risotto was at Castle Terrace in Edinburgh when I had a wonderful shaved truffle spelt risotto. There is a nuttiness and extra bite when using spelt or pearl barley over risotto rice. I can’t get hold of spelt in Orkney so I have to use pearl barley now instead.

Fennel and lemon pearl barley risotto Risotto base Fennel and lemon pearl barley risotto

This is is a lovely and fresh risotto and not heavy, cheesy and creamy, a wonderful dish for a summers night with a glass of white wine.

Fennel and lemon pearl barley risotto


  •  150g pearl barley
  • 1 fennel head
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g hard goats cheese (grated)
  • pea shoots
  • salt and pepper


  1.  Finely chop the fennel tops and onion, place in a risotto pan with butter and olive oil, cook and a low heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Add the pearly barley and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  2. At the same time chop the remaining fennel finely and cook on a low heat in a separate pan in olive oil until soft.
  3. Add the wine to the risotto and keep stirring until nearly all the liquid is incorporated. Ladle spoonfuls of the stock into risotto when the risotto has incorporated it. Keep adding the stock until the pearl barley is cooked (it should still have a bit of bite to it).
  4. Turn the risotto off the heat and add the juice and zest of the lemon and grated goats cheese to the risotto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir through the fennel.
  5. To plate up place the risotto in a pasta dish and scatter with pea shoots.

Enjoy! H x


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