We have some absolutely gorgeous buffalo mozzarella in our fridge this week. The mozzarella comes from a local buffalo farm that we were lucky enough to visit recently. I was amazed at how social the buffalo were, congregating near us to say hello, and how graceful their gait.
This meal was born from a desire to showcase this lovely cheese without relying on my default dish of eggplant parmigiana. Pearl barley has a slight chewiness when cooked and is a delicious alternative to arborio rice. I encourage you to experiment with other additions to this risotto. Chorizo and tomato or bacon and pumpkin would be fantastic substitutions for the mushrooms.
mushroom barley risotto
- splash of olive oil, knob of butter
- 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves of
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 doz button mushrooms, sliced
- 1.5 litres stock of your choice (I used cold chicken stock)
- 2c pearl barley
- 2/3 c grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
- a knob of butter
- 2 balls buffalo mozzarella
- 2 punnets cherry tomatoes, roasted
- basil or parsley to serve
In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic and thyme leaves in the olive oil and butter until cooked through and fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until golden brown. Add the pearl barley, stir through. Add the stock. Cook on a simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring every now and then. When barley is soft and stock has reduced, remove the pot form the stove and stir through the parmesan and the second knob of butter. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve, topped with extra parmesan, the roast tomatoes,herbs and torn mozzarella. Serves 6.
I do a bake of some sort every couple of weeks. I love the simplicity of a “one bowl & bake” dinner and the resulting ready-made lunch for the next day. Pasta and rice are obvious choices for this dish but I used quinoa for our dinner last week. You could just as easily use brown rice, freekeh or couscous. Don’t have ricotta? Use sour cream or cream cheese instead. Some bacon, anchovies or chorizo sauteed with the mushrooms would be delicious if you choose. Like most of my recipes, this one is so easily adapted to what you have in your fridge or cupboard so make this meal work for you.
mushroom ricotta quinoa bake
- 2c cooked quinoa (from about 1c raw)
- 300g button mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 sprigs lemon thyme (or chopped parsley or basil)
- 1 zucchini, grated
- 2 big handfuls kale or spinach
- 1c frozen peas
- handful of olives
- 250g ricotta
- 2 eggs
- about 1/3c grated parmesan (or cheddar)
- salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 180’c. Saute the mushrooms on high heat in some olive oil until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic, thyme and zucchini and cook until aromatic. Season well. Throw in the spinach and peas and stir over the heat until the spinach is wilted and peas are hot. Tip this mushroom mix into a large bowl and add the cooked quinoa and the olives. Leave to cool a little and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the ricotta and eggs together and add to the quinoa mixture. Mix until combined. Place mix into a 20cm baking dish, sprinkle with 2 pinches of parmesan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and crisp green salad. We enjoyed this bake all warm and cheesy for dinner and then the next day with hot smoked salmon and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.