This is a really warming, filling dinner for when the weather is cold outside and you're in need of some comfort food. My daughters love this risotto and it's one of their favourite autumn/winter suppers. It's also a meal that will save you a few pennies too.
50g unsalted butter
500g pearl barley
1 vegetable stock cube
300g frozen mixed vegetables
250g mushrooms, sliced
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped
150g grated mature Cheddar, a vegetarian alternative
Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.
Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered. When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until it starts foaming. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5-10 minutes until they're golden brown. Season to taste. We you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the mushrooms, herbs and cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon into bowls.