Swiss chard grows well in cool temperatures as well as warmer, so is grown all year round, making it a great option for winter. Pumpkin is also a winter veg. Both are grown in the UK, as well as the barley, so this recipe really utilities local produce - reducing air miles.
The pearl barley in this recipe provides a generous source of fibre. Arborio risotto rice provides 1g fibre per 100g, whereas pearled barley provides 14g! Fibre contributes to preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and so much more. Barley also has the lowest glycemic index of all common grains, preventing sudden rises in your blood sugar level. The peal barley creates its own creaminess so you'll be amazed that this risotto is dairy free.
2 tbps olive oil
1 white onion
2 cloves garlic
240g peal barley
1 litre vegetable stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Big bunch rainbow chard - about 10 stems
Handful fresh parsley
Handful pumpkin seeds
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick pan. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Cook on a very low heat for 10 minutes. If the onions ever start to catch, add 1 tbsp of water.
3. Finely chop the garlic and thyme leaves and add to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, being careful that the garlic does not burn.
4. Wash the peal barley thoroughly in cold water. Add it to the pan, along with 1/2 the stock.
5. Cook on a low heat, regularly stirring and adding another ladle of stock for 45-60 minutes. If you need more liquid than the 1 Litre, use boiling water.
6. While the risotto is cooking, de-seed and slice the pumpkin. Put the pieces in a roasting tray, toss in 1 tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn half way through.
7. When the pearl barley is 5 minutes away from being cooked, chop the chard stems into thumb length pieces right up through the leaf. Add to the pumpkin tray with the juice of 1/2 lemon, toss well, and return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the leaves to wilt but not burn, and the stems to soften.
8. Finely chop the parsley and add to the risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with the roast veg on-top and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.