Top of the morning to yis all.

I got the idea for this recipe from your man Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. He has a really good vegetarian book called “River Cottage: Veg Every Day”. It has vegan and veggie recipes in it, but I mainly use it for inspiration and I just veganise a lot of the veggie recipes. This one is one of them.

I sourced all of my vegetables from my favourite local farm: Ballyholey, and, my own back garden. Obviously, if you have no access to local organic goods, just go to your local supermarket! Dunnes might not have rainbow chard but they will have spinach or kale or savoy cabbage etc. You can adapt this – no bother at all!

And yes, I know this is not technically a risotto because there is no rice involved, but, the effect is similar! And barley is the rice of the Irish! Well, it used to be. Wouldn’t it be great if farmers used all their land to grow healthy grains instead of rearing animals? One can only hope.


Serves: 4-6 hungry people (a very big batch)

Prep time: 10-20 minutes (depends how fast you can peel a turnip)

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp vegan butter (Pure soya butter is my fave)
  • 2 large onions or 4 small ones (shallots would do too)
  • 4-6 stalks of rainbow chard
  • 1 turnip (or swede if you’re not from the Emerald Isle)
  • 2 carrots (i just threw some wee globe carrots in last minute – this part is not essential)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 500g pearl barley
  • A few gratings of nutmeg
  • A handful of fresh chives
  • 1 scallion (spring onion)
  • A handful of parsley
  • Grated gary (Vegan cheese…)
  • Nutritional yeast (to be honest I can’t actually remember if I used this or not but I usually do and it does no harm anyway so fire it in!)
  • Black pepper

As you have probably noticed from the ingredients, the quantities of this dish can vary depending on how much you want. And the ingredients just depend on your own personal preference. The above ingredients are what I used and it turned out delicious. You will need a MASSIVE pot though to fit it all in. Actually, I used two separate pots so maybe do that. Or just make less. 🙂

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  1. Peel and chop all your veg and finely dice the garlic.
  2. Bring the stock to a low simmer in a small pan and keep over a very low heat.
  3. Put your two sauce pans on a medium heat.
  4. Add a tsp of butter to each.
  5. Sweat the onions first for about 10 minutes until soft – stirring often.
  6. Add the garlic, chard stems and turnip (and carrots if you’re using them) and stir for a few more minutes. Add more butter if you need to.
  7. Then add the barley and stir for a few minutes making sure all the grains are coated in the butter.
  8. Once all the veg is starting to soften and cook, and the barley is more involved in the process, you can add the stock very slowly. Just like risotto!
  9. Every time you add a bit of stock stir it in and let it simmer for a while until it’s absorbed. It does take a lot of stirring and waiting – but it’s worth it!
  10. When the turnip is nearly cooked through and all the stock is nearly absorbed, add in the chard leaves and let them wilt into the dish while it finishes cooking.
  11. When it is nearly finished (and on the road to being a rich and creamy, delicious risotto) you can add it the parsley, grate it as much nutmeg as you want, throw it around a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a handful of grated vegan cheese, and some cracked black pepper.
  12. There may be a chance that I put a small bit of wholegrain mustard into this but I can’t remember! Sorry! If you feel like it would be a good addition add it in!
  13. When the turnip is soft and the barley risotto is creamy, it’s done! Plate it up and sprinkle with finely diced chives. Serve with a crisp green salad – yum!


Let me know what you thought of this post!