Pearl Barley, Tomato and Feta Risotto

It’s not quite as exciting as a Toblerone Cheesecake today I’m afraid! (Although don’t worry, I have been doing some more baking so keep a look out for some more deliciously unhealthy treats) What it is however, is a healthy and easy lunch or meal. While pearl barley needs a long time to simmer, the very minimal chopping here means that you can get this on the hob in a matter of 10 minutes (or quite a lot less if you can chop your onions chef style). I’ve used tinned tomatoes here for ease, but you can of course use fresh tomatoes if you prefer – it would probably make for a slightly less intense red colour! This is best eaten hot, but I found it to be absolutely fine to have cold for lunch at work as well. Serves about 3-4.


  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 280g pearl barley
  • 1x 400g chopped tomatoes (or the same quantity of fresh tomatoes)
  • 300ml passata
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 tsp Bouillon (vegetable stock, or half a stock cube)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 strips of lemon zest (I used a potato peeler to do this)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper for seasoning, if preferred
  • 1 tsp dried coriander leaves (or one handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped)
  • 100g feta cheese, cut into blocks or crumbled

How to make it…

  1. First, sautee the garlic on a medium heat with olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan until golden.
  2. Next, add the pearl barley, chopped tomatoes, passata, bay leaf (if using), Bouillon, paprika, chilli flakes, lemon zest and sugar. Also add salt and pepper to taste at this stage if using.
  3. Leave to simmer for around 50 minutes, keep adding about half a cup of water every so often to give the pearl barley enough liquid to cook. The pearl barley should end up being soft but still a little firm. You’ll need to stir it occasionally to make sure the pearl barley doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Finally, add the coriander leaves and feta cheese.
  5. Enjoy!


Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Barley, Tomato and Garlic Risotto recipe in the Guardian Magazine:




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