Mushroom Orzotto

There is really no excuse for not updating my blog for so long!... except for the fact that I am back to a full-time job, making it VERY difficult to find a slot in my day to actually sit down and write!  But this weekend I sit all alone in my kitchen (which doubles-up as my office when I am writing) and I just had to update!

Over the past few weeks we have done a fair bit of travelling - food-focused trips of course! We've been to the Alsace region in France and Germany and if that is not enough incentive to write then what is?
The delicacies are just too many to mention, let alone try them all out (not that we didn't give it a try!) The food is so good and varied that you really wish you do have enough stomach space to sample it all, but alas I didn't.

Once we settled back home and into our normal routine, I must admit that I did do an effort to cook leaner meals to hopefully regain some health balance within oneself. Whether it worked or not is another post in itself!  
One of the detox recipes I used is this one, Mushroom Orzotto as it looks fatty enough for us not to go cold turkey!  The prepared dish is posh enough to make the to make it onto any dinner-party menu but it is healthy and quick enough to go on my after-work mid-week menu!

The first time I attempted an orzotto I must admin that I was slightly nervous about the consistency of the plate.  I was used to using barley in soups but did realise that the addition of barley makes the soup thicker and creamer. So here goes:

This is what you need to serve 4 as a starter or 2 very large plates.
200g barley (try not to buy the pearled type as that has the bran removed)
about 300g mushrooms
1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano or thyme
1 tsp paprika

Start off by soaking the barley in enough water to cover it all plus an little bit extra on top.  Stir it slightly so as to allow any flakes to rise to the top and throw the water out.

In a pot or a wok, cook the onion in a little but of oil, butter or wine. Make sure that your onion is chopped very finely.  Next add about half the mushrooms which also need to be chopped finely.

Once the onions and the mushroom start to sizzle and cook, add the barley and a little bit of water.  If you cook the mushrooms enough, there is no need to use stock as the mushrooms will make the stock of the Orzotto.  

Keep on stirring the pot until all the water in absorbed, then add a bit more water.  This part of the recipe is similar to making a risotto.  Once you feel that the barley has softened enough, add the remaining mushrooms, the herbs and the paprika.  Season with salt and pepper if you wish.

The cooking time should be around 25 to 30 minutes.  Orzotto is not as delicate as risotto and will not overcook as quickly making it ideal for your dinner parties.  Always make sure to add the water in small doses and to taste the barley to check whether it is cooked or not.  It should be soft on the outside but with a slight bite at the end.

For the difference between pearled barley and barley click here 

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