- 2 leeks
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 rashers bacon
- good handful fresh parsley
- 2 sprigs lemon thyme
- 100g parmesan cheese, cut into large cubes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1½ cups pearl barley (220g) soaked over night*
- 250ml dry white wine
- 2L vegetable or chicken stock
- 200ml full cream milk or cream
- punnet cherry tomatoes
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 50g baby spinach leaves
- Trim the roots and the course green tops from the leeks. Remove any hard outer leaves and discard. Roughly chop into 3-4 cm lengths. Roughly chop the bacon.
- Attach the chopper bowl to food chopper with the blade. Add the leeks and garlic. Cover and process on speed 1 for 4-5 seconds, remove mixture from the bowl. Add the bacon, parsley and thyme, cover and process on speed 1 for 3 seconds. Remove from the bowl.
- Add the parmesan to the bowl, cover and pulse in short bursts on speed 2 for about 20 seconds or until well chopped. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep, heavy based saucepan. Add the leek and bacon and herb mixtures to the oil. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is softened and lightly golden.
- Add the barley (drained well) and toss well to combine. Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally until lightly toasted. Meanwhile place the stock into another saucepan and bring to a bubbly simmer.
- Add the wine to the barley mixture and cook, stirring until evaporated. Add 1 ladleful at a time of the simmering stock to the barley, stirring well until each addition has evaporated. Repeat this until all the stock is added. It will take about 20 minutes. Stir in the milk or cream and tomatoes and cover. Simmer over a low heat for 8 minutes or until the risotto is creamy and just tender but still has a little "bite".
- Add spinach, half of the parmesan and season with black pepper. Stir well and allow the spinach to just soften in the hot risotto.
- Scatter over the remaining parmesan and serve immediately.
Soak the barley over night in cold water and drain well before using. The risotto can be made without soaking but will take additional 10 minutes or so to cook and result in a much firmer textured finished result.