Against the grain

Wild mushroom barley risotto (“barlotto”) with peas and Irish sausages.

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A super easy and economical weekday meal. Chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan finish it off nicely, OR you can jazz it up for a dinner party and impress your guests with home-made wild garlic pesto – I’ve included the recipe below.

Wild garlic is abundant in shady Irish woodlands from spring all through summer. You can even eat the pretty white flowers which have a delicate garlicky taste.

Ingredients (feeds 4):
1 mug Irish barley
2 cups wild Irish mushrooms or 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 small onion
1-2 cloves garlic
3/4 litre chicken or beef stock
Knob of butter
1/2 cup frozen peas
Small handful of Parsley
Parmesan

Directions: sautée the onion and garlic for a minute or so in the butter. Add the mushrooms – if using dried porcini mushrooms soak first in 1 cup boiling water and add with the liquid.

Add the barley and stir well. Pour in all the stock, there is no need to add gradually as you would with risotto. Allow it to bubble away with the lid on, giving it an occasional stir for a good 30 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a further 3-5 minutes. Check the barley to see if it’s done – it should be al dente but not chewy. Add more stock or hot water near the end if you think it needs it.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and shaved Parmesan (or a dollop of the wild garlic pesto), along with grilled Irish Sausages and a green salad on the side.

Wild Garlic pesto: using a food processor blitz about 50g Parmesan with pine nuts (or walnuts), add a bunch of chopped wild garlic and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, blitz again.

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