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This recipe takes a little time but because it doesn’t require as much attention as rice risotto, it is very much worth the effort.

(Serves 6)

You’ll need:

200g pearled barley, rinsed and drained
1 onion, finely diced
2 tsp crushed garlic
4 thyme sprigs
1 tsp dried herbs
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
800ml boiling water (or 550ml water and 250ml white wine)
1 cup butternut, diced
1 cup spinach, rinsed
½ T salt
Pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little water until soft. Add the barley, thyme, dried herbs, cumin, paprika and water (or water and wine combination), place over a low-medium heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary and stir occasionally to prevent the barley from sticking to the pan – after 40minutes most of the water should be absorbed and the pearled barley should be tender. Add the spinach and salt, cover with a lid and simmer for a further 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add pepper to taste.

Recipe and photograph: Lesley Scott

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