beetroot and barley risotto

very easy beetroot and barley risotto

I bought a 3kg bag of baby beetroot from Fruit & veg City for R9  (a dollar) the other day.  Way too much of course, but at that price who wouldn’t.

I love beetroot, so here is my first recipe using this inexpensive, versatile and highly nutritious vegetable.  Its also Monday so for those who pick this day to cut out meat, here is an idea.


  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk finely diced
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 250gms of beetroot, peeled and chopped into smallish chunks (about 3cm)
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 1/2 (125 ml) cup of dry white wine
  • 750ml vegetable stock (I used Nomu Vegetable Fond)
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs of finely chopped parsley
  • salt and Pepper
  • Parmesan or Pecorino shavings to serve (or grated)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pot and gently fry the onion and celery until just softening (about 5 minutes). Add the beetroot and toss about.  Add the cup of barley and stir coating it in the oil until it just starts catching.  Add the wine and allow the liquid to evapourate.  You could add a bit extra if you wanted.  I tend to just toss a bit in as I go.  Add 500ml of the hot stock and put the lid on and allow the risotto to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and add the remaining 250ml of stock as you would a risotto and as it is needed and cook for about another 10 minutes until the barley is cooked but still has a bit of a bite.  I found the whole cooking time was about over 30 minutes (from the addition of the barley), of which about half of it was with the lid on and half I had the lid off. Just before it is done, add the balsamic and the parsley and season well with salt and pepper to your taste. Turn off the heat and put the lid on and allow it to stand for a bit.  I found this just softened it a bit more and unlike risotto with rice, it did not over cook and go stodgy.

Drizzle over a little olive oil and add the Pecorino or Parmesan shavings. I loved the texture of the slightly crunchy barley with the sweetness of the beetroot.  I ate this with lightly steamed fresh green asparagus, and it was a lovely addition to my (mainly) vegetarian week of eating.

slightly sweet and crunchy tasting like the earth

The Blue bowl is Wonki Ware from Blink, 71 Regent Street, Sea Point (directly opposite Checkers and diagonally across from La Mouette). They carry the largest range in Cape Town amongst other wonderful things.

This very pretty piece of fabric comes from Silk and Cotton 


13 Responses to beetroot and barley risotto

  1. Linda October 31, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Love these photos! That risotto sounds so delicious – and so healthy! That fabric is gorgeous as well. Beautiful! x

  2. Lori October 31, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Ah! Love the pink cloth, the light grey bowl and that vibrant risotto! Stunning Sammie x

  3. Sam October 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Thanks Linda 🙂 (aka Squish)

  4. Katherine Martinelli November 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    This looks absolutely delicious!! I have all the ingredients except beetroot, which I can easily pick up – this is going on the menu soon! So glad to have stumbled upon your blog 😀 Gorgeous photos and recipes!

  5. Sam November 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Thanks Katherine, I thought it worked out pretty well. let me know how it goes. fresh asparagus goes really well, a green salad or crispy bacon.

  6. Jeanne @ Cooksister! November 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    OK, so that’s TWO beetroot recipes that you’ve put up that make me feel a little tempted – an incredible achievement given my general aversion to the red stuff 🙂 Love that bowl!

  7. Sam November 5, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks Jeanne, I went a little wild with beetroot lately. felt inspired by it. 🙂


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