Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta

by Rebekahcooked up on February 3, 2014

We accomplished something pretty incredible this past weekend. Something besides the 6.5 mile run, the intense yoga class or the yard work.

We used an entire head of garlic for ONE MEAL. Well, all but four teeny, tiny cloves in the center. I feel like there should be an Xbox Achievement we’ve unlocked for this. And it was a meal for two of us – there’s no quantity cooking involved that would make this less amusing.

I didn’t realize we had done so until Sunday morning, when I was cutting up potatoes and onions for a delicious harissa peasant potato skillet… and there was no garlic but these four tiny pieces. We bought a brand new head between lunch and dinner the day before! Where had it all gone? One word: JERUSALEM.

Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta | PDXfoodlove

Not actually to Jerusalem, of course, but to the two recipes we made from that fabulous cookbook for dinner. One was a green bean salad that called for fried garlic. One was this stunning barley risotto that called for four cloves. I guess that means we used it all! Not that I’m complaining. I am a garlic fiend. If you follow me on Twitter, you may recall that I once found some garlic in my gym bag. I still haven’t figured out why it was there. Maybe I subconsciously wanted a snack for later.

Anyway, both of the recipes were excellent. We’ll be incorporating them into the regular dinner portfolio, but I think this risotto was the real favorite. I loved the way the barley had just a little bit more bite to it than rice risotto. This recipe was also delightfully tomatoey, and the salty marinated feta was the perfect foil for the sweet tomatoes.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup pearl barley
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 celery stalks, diced
2 small shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
4 strips of lemon peel
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. chile flakes
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups drained crushed tomatoes

For the marinated feta (FWIW, I made 1/4 of this part and it was plenty for us)
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
10.5 oz. feta crumbles
4 Tbsp. olive oil

Top with:
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
salt

Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta | PDXfoodlove

Rinse the barley in cold water and allow to drain.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Cook the celery, shallots and garlic for just about five minutes.

Next, add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chile flakes, tomatoes, stock, drained crushed tomatoes and salt. Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the majority of the liquid is absorbed. Stir frequently as it cooks.

Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds gently in either a dry skillet or a toaster oven. Crush so that some pods break open. Then add them to the feta with the 4 Tbsp. olive oil and crush to make a thick paste. You may need to add more olive oil to reach this point.

When the risotto is ready, taste for salt level and serve in bowls, topped with the marinated feta. Garnish with fresh oregano.

Adapted from Jerusalem, a book that you should buy immediately because it is awesome.

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