Looking for risotto recipes? This unusual twist on risotto uses pearl barley instead of rice – just add cheese, cabbage, pine nuts and basil for a tasty and simple meal
Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Skill level: Easy peasy


  • 250g (8oz) Cavolo Nero or Savoy cabbage
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 30g (1oz) butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 300g (10oz) pearl barley, rinsed
  • 60g (2oz) pine nuts, toasted
  • 30g (1oz) basil leaves
  • 90g (3oz) mature Cheddar or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove any tough stems from the cabbage and cut the leaves into thin strips. Pour 1.5 litres (2½ pints) boiling water into a large pan. Bring back to the boil, stir in the cabbage and boil for 2-3 mins. Drain the cabbage in a colander over a large jug or bowl to keep the cooking water. Run cold water through the cabbage in the sink to preserve its colour. Set aside the cabbage and add the stock cubes to the cooking water.
  2. Melt half the butter in the large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 5 mins until softened. Tip in the pearl barley and stir well to coat it in butter, then add about 150ml (¼ pint) of the stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock this way, and stirring.
  3. With the last batch of stock, add the blanched cabbage and cook for about 5 mins until the stock has been absorbed and the cabbage is tender.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts, torn basil leaves, remaining butter and most of the cheese. Season and serve hot, sprinkled with the rest of the cheese.

Nutritional information per portion

fat 26.0g saturates 10.0g calories 556(kcal)

This nutritional information is only a guide and is based on 2,000 calories per day. For more information on eating a healthy diet, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.

Guideline Daily Amount for 2,000 calories per day are: 70g fat, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar, 6g salt.