There’s not too much pear in this dish but just enough to add a mild sweetness that brings the mushrooms to life. I love using barley for risottos as it has an extra bite to it that you just don’t get with risotto rice. Although it takes a little longer to cook, you don’t have to stand around the pan constantly stirring and you end up with the same creamy texture too. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, so I used a mixture of chestnut, button and my favorite for impact – dried porcini. You just can’t compare the flavour they add. Last minute, stir in one of the best cheeses known to man – Parmesan, with a little extra on top and you have complete indulgence in a dish!


Ingredients serves 4

  • 300g barley
  • 200g fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of button and chestnut)
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 onion (diced small)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 pear (pealed and diced, removing both ends)
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 70g Parmesan (some extra to grate on top)
  • salt and black pepper (season to taste)


  1. If you have a fresh vegetable stock, then bring to the boil, turn off the heat and add the dried porcini mushrooms. If not, then add a stock cube to 1 litre of boiling water and add the porcini mushrooms. Leave to soak for around 20-30 minutes, in the meantime you can make a start with the rest of your dish.
  2. In a saucepan, boil the barley for 10 minutes (following package guidelines), then strain and wash under cold water thoroughly.
  3. With about a tbsp of oil in the pan, soften the onion and pear on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add in the garlic and mushrooms. Turn up the heat a little and mix all together, stirring for another 2-3 minutes and then lower the heat. Add the barley and stir once more until evenly mixed.
  4. Add the stock, using a sieve to keep out the porcini mushrooms. Put the mushrooms on a chopping board and roughly chop up into smaller pieces then add back to the risotto.
  5. Bring to the boil and then cover. Cook for about 40 minutes until the water has mostly disappeared and turned into a creamy texture, then stir in the Parmesan.
  6. Serve with a little extra Parmesan on top!


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