If ‘risotto’ comes from rice, ‘orzotto’ comes from…barley!

I’m not baking treats since my last b(r)undt cake, as we received some cookies from a friend and we still have a lot of sweet stuff to eat. That’s why I’m focusing on cooking and, after the Mac&Cheese experience, I wanted to prepare something a bit healthier 😉

I choose to make a Herbs Orzotto. What’s Orzotto? well, it’s a risotto (this word comes from Italian word riso – rice) but made with barley (orzo, in Italian). The technique used is exactly the same: to let the barley cook, you have to add stock little by little and stir until done.

It’s a super-easy recipe but unfortunately not quick. Barley takes about 40 minutes to get ready, if you cook it this way…but creaminess and distinguishing taste of this whole grain will be worth your waiting! If you want to have an all-in-one course you can add some tuna fillets in olive oil, just before serving. And ‘Buon appetito!’.


Prep Time: 5 min             Cooking Time: about 40 min                Yield: 4 servings

  • 280 gr/ 1 1/4 cups pearl barley
  • 1/2 onion (I choose red variety as it’s sweeter)
  • a big handful fresh herbs mix (thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary)
  • 1lt stock (I prefer vegetables one, as it has no big taste)
  • 60 gr/ 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 glass dry white wine
  • grated parmigiano or pecorino romano cheese
  • Coarse black pepper
  1. Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat 40gr/ 3tbsp of butter, add onions finely sliced and herbs chopped. Fry slowly for about 4 minutes. When they have softened, add the barley and turn up the heat.
  2. The barley will begin to fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute add the wine and keep stirring. You will smell the perfume of alchool which evaporates, leaving a tasty essence.
  3. Once the wine has evaporated, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer. Keep adding ladles of stock when you see barley is getting dry.
  4. After about 40 minutes, your barley should be done and you can remove it from heat. Add the remaining butter and grated parmiagiano. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. –> There’s a word in Italian that describes exactly this step: mantecatura. There’s no translation in English, but basically it means giving barley (or pasta, or rice…) a chance to absorb sauce, cheese, butter and all aromas. It makes such a difference, as it ensure the characteristic creamy aspect (and taste!)
  5. Serve the orzotto with a generous sprinkle of coarse black pepper on top.
    • Lothebaker said:

      Thx! Let’s say it’s easy to make but very well-performing! 😉

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