The Healthiest Beet & Barley Risotto

Written by: Ben Orkin



First of all happy New Year everyone, sorry I haven’t been able to put a post together yet this year. I’ve just been very busy being on holiday. It was so nice to relax and take a moment to breathe before I go into another hectic year. This is my last year of school and then I’m pretty much free.

During the holidays, I had the opportunity to stay with my extended family in a little campsite above a beautiful lagoon. Due to the fact that we were camping, there was no Internet connection and worst of all, there was no chance of me baking. I found a new love and turned to cooking. I made breakfast, lunch, and supper everyday for my family. I’ve always loved cooking, in fact before I was a baker, I was a cook. Anyway it was awesome to reignite the flames between cooking and me. I learned a lot about making use of bits and bobs in the fridge and pantry so when I came home it was natural for me to put my new skills to good use. I found a packet of pearl barley and immediately knew how I would use it. I turned it into this delicious and healthy Beet and Barley Risotto.

Barley is a grain that is rich in nutrients, making it the perfect addition to any meal. It contains fewer calories than any other grain, yet it sustains your hunger for much longer. This helps you feel happier and more energetic.

It also has multiple benefits to your body, giving you healthy bones, teeth, skin and hair, so you’re basically doing yourself a favour by eating barley.


I can’t tell you enough how delicious this mock risotto is. I have replaced the normal risotto rice with pearl barley for healthier alternative; after you try this version, you’ll never want to go back to the normal stodgy rice. Also, it is very easy to make – unlike normal risotto, you don’t need to stand around a hot stove stirring a grain for hours. All you do is add your liquid and let the grain do its thing. The barley gives the risotto a nutty flavour and makes for a less heavy and stodgy risotto. The flavours of the barley work very well together with beetroot, which has an earthy taste. Overall, it is a richer and healthier alternative to any normal risotto.

Beet & Barley Risotto

Serves 4 people as a side


  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 250g pearl barley
  • 2 tbs white wine
  • 2 beetroots, boiled until soft
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs butter



Place your stock in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.

Chop your onion into small pieces. Warm a large heavy based pan with a little olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add your onions and sea salt and stir until brown.


Add your pearl barley to the pan and stir until it has absorbed the onion oils and juices. Next, add your white wine and continue stirring until the barley has absorbed it.

Add all of your stock to the pan and place a lid over it. Leave to simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender. If it is still tough, add more stock, and continue cooking.

In the meantime you can get on with the beetroot. Blend the cooked beetroot to a puree. Add the olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Mix together.


Remove the barley from the heat and add your grated Parmesan cheese and butter; mix well together. Finally add your beetroot mixture. Mix it into the barley, but not completely so that some of the barley is left in its natural colour.

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Serve plain or with grated Parmesan cheese and micro herbs.

Happy cooking!
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