This is similar to risotto in every way except it takes a bit longer (about 45 minutes), so start a good while before your baby’s howling like a wolf, and you don’t need to keep stirring while the liquid’s getting absorbed, freeing you up to race tiny cars.
We didn’t have any lemons so I used a bit of sumac from my Ottolenghi period.
Teaspoon of butter
1/2 stick celery, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
100g pearl barley
400ml boiling water
Low salt veg or chicken stock cube, crumbled
Finely chopped oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Zest of half a lemon
A pinch of saffron
Grating black pepper
Saute the veg in the butter, then stir through the barley and add the liquid and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for around 35-45 minutes, till the liquid’s absorbed and the barley’s tender.
Serve with a bit of mild cheese on top – maybe pecorino or crumbled feta.