Can’t Stand The Heat? Get Into The Kitchen.

Hi! I hope you’re doing well this lovely sweltering day. Should I have put a comma between lovely and sweltering? Eh, oh well.

I have this ridiculous habit of making hot food when it’s too hot to be cooking. It’s an affliction, I don’t intend on stopping. One of my favorite relatively simple (though involved) recipes is from Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem for pearled barley risotto. It’s easier than standard risotto with arborio rice as it doesn’t require constant stirring and meticulous additions of liquid at precisely the right moment. I have yet to feed this to someone and have them not like it.

I’ve adapted my recipe to suit my personal tastes, and to account for my varying pantry inventory. I hope you give it a try, now or in a few months when you’ve forgotten what it feels like to sweat through your shorts at 10AM.

Pearled Barley Risotto
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi

250 g pearled barley, one heaping cup
3 cups veggie stock
1 28-ounce can whole-peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 strips of lemon peel, about one small lemon worth
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic, minced (about 4 T)
1 large onion, diced
2 very small celery stalks, diced
1 jalapeño, diced with seeds, optional
1 teaspoon dried oregano
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large bay leaf
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 handfuls fresh kale, chopped
fresh chèvre, to taste (2-3 T)

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on low-medium, add about 2/3 of the garlic, smoked paprika, pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add onion, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper, continue to sauté until onion softens a bit, about 4 minutes. Add celery and jalapeño (if using), sauté another minute or so.
  3. Squeeze lemon peel into skillet (to release oil) and add peels, add pearled barley and stir for another minute.
  4. Empty liquid from tomatoes into skillet, increase heat to medium, squish tomatoes into skillet, if you can break into nickel sized skillets that is ideal. Add bay leaf, stir, add stock and reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until most liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Barley will begin to stick to the bottom of the skillet towards the end so be careful not to burn.
  5. Once liquid is mostly absorbed, remove lid and add parmesan and chèvre, stir, add kale and cover briefly to allow greens to wilt. Stir kale into risotto, remove from heat and serve. Delicious with rosemary bread, probably better for you with a green salad.


Kale from the garden, stock from the freezer in my oh-so-fashionable Nancy’s storage ware


Well, there you have it. I’m going to go shower, my kitchen is approximately 103 degrees F.

Until next time,

This picture is the worst but I felt like it was necessary?

3 thoughts on “Can’t Stand The Heat? Get Into The Kitchen.

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