Kale, Walnut and Lemon Pearl Barley Risotto Recipe

Risotto is a dish that adapts well to every season. Depending on what ingredients you use to flavour yours it can be light and delicate (Leek and Pea Risotto), or rich and decadent (Red Pepper and Goats Cheese Risotto). However, flavours are not the only way in which you can influence the seasonality of a dish. Though traditionally made with short, fat rice, it is possible to incorporate other grains or even pasta into a risotto. This recipe for Kale, Walnut and Lemon Pearl Barley Risotto runs with that idea, taking a step closer to winter perfection.

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This is one of those very rare moments in which I draw rather direct inspiration and part of a recipe from someone else. However, there is no shame to be had in this particular case, since when my mother showed the photo to me I knew at once that a similar result had to be achieved. Of course, the recipe has been altered a little; the original contained no blueberries, was party to an orange instead of a lemon and lacked oats, not to mention the fact that the quantities are a little different. Still, enough was drawn from this particular recipe to warrant a mention – thank you, Mail on Sunday and each and every one of your entrails, most suited to middle aged women.

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A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend bought a pasta machine. It was really inexpensive – around £20 – and of surprisingly good quality. So, since the machine itself was rather economical and pasta making is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, I decided to write an entry on the process. Firstly, it must be said that although the process can get a little fiddly, it is relatively easy. Strangely, it feels more like an activity than any other type of cooking in which I’ve ever partaken. As such, though it takes a little time and ample dedication, it never really feels like a chore. In fact, you almost forget that any end product will come of your efforts.

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Hummus, a dip usually made with chickpeas, is by far my favourite dip. When made correctly, it has such a full and punchy flavour worthy of even the fattest cat’s mezze. As we all know, chickpeas make a truly wonderful hummus. However, with variety being the spice of life, there isn’t any harm in substituting them for a slightly different ingredient. Straying beyond the realm of the humble pulse would prove a little foolish in this case, so there we shall remain. Indeed, butterbeans make a pretty favourable choice, since they possess a particularly smooth and creamy texture. As such, this take on the Middle Eastern classic is equally, if not more, palatable than its esteemed counterpart. The use of paprika to make infused oil may appear a little frivolous on the surface, but it is an integral part to this dish. Not only does it give the hummus a rather delectable streak of colour, it also completes its flavour profile with a smoky sweetness. As for the lack of tahini, this dip really doesn’t need it.

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I like to think that most of the recipes and photos posted to this blog have a certain rustic charm to them. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but it comes rather too easily to me. Occasionally one must challenge oneself to break free of their expected roles – this is one of my infrequent flutters into the realm of ponce. Actually, let’s face it, I endeavour to spend most of my time as a pretentious so-and-so; this is my attempt to have my food join me.

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