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Garlic n Chilli

Barley Risotto with asparagus and fresh curd

Barley Risotto with asparagus and fresh curd

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As seen on The Cook and the Chef.

Serves 4 as a hearty main meal


60g unsalted butter
extra virgin olive oil (evoo) for frying
1 cup barley
1 cup leeks, sliced
1/2 cup verjuice
3 bunches asparagus
1 litre asparagus stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
120g fresh curd cheese


Asparagus Stock
Trim about 4 – 5 cm from the woody base of the asparagus. Chop these woody ends roughly and place into a medium sized saucepan. Cover with 1 litre of water, a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook until the asparagus ends are quite soft but still retain some bright green colour. Puree the asparagus ends with a stab mixer – or better yet in a blender. If using a blender you will have to let the asparagus stock cool down before you can process it so that it doesn’t overflow when pureed.

Slice the tips off the rest of the asparagus and set aside. Then slice the remaining asparagus on the diagonal and set aside.

Heat half of the butter and a little evoo in a large frying pan, add the leeks and cook for a couple of minutes (as you would for a risotto), until just tender but not coloured. Add the barley and stir and when hot deglaze with verjuice. Re-heat the asparagus stock until just boiling. Add the asparagus stock a cup full at a time to the barley mix, stirring continuously until all of the stock is absorbed. Continue to add the stock until the barley is still quite nutty (the barley will be a little more forgiving than Arborio rice if you allow it to cook a little longer than necessary).

After about 20 minutes while the barley is still crunchy, add the sliced asparagus, reserving the tips, and continue to cook adding the tips after a couple of minutes. Cook until the asparagus has just coloured. This takes about 10 minutes. Add the remaining butter, adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with a tablespoon of fresh curd on top of each serve.

*Note: I didn't puree the asparagus ends, I lifted them out with slotted spoon and used a clear stock. I felt that was better. I also added corn, spinach and sliced snow peas, and used parmesan instead of goat's curd. You could easily remove the butter and cheese to create a vegan dish. It's all about earthy flavours, so as long as you stick to that flavour profile, you can add anything you like!
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