Autumnal pearl barley ‘risotto’ with goat’s cheese and a fried egg


I love autumn. The colours, the leaves, hats and scarves, wooly gloves. Waking up to crisp mornings and then settling down, to a warm homely meal in the evening. Lovely. Everything about autumn is lovely (apart from the rain maybe). This recipe is perfect for autumn, it’s full of earthy flavours; mushrooms and pearl barley, muddled together with floral thyme and spicy bay leaves. Heck it even looks like autumn, the yellow of the egg against the brown pearl barley ‘risotto’. This is a real hearty dish, proper comfort food to tuck into after a day of jumping in autumn leaves.

If you’re not familiar with pearl barley, it’s a super versatile, healthy grain that is ridiculously cheap and full of protein and fibre. It’s one of these ingredients that is often forgotten about, but I love it. The slightly annoying thing is you have to cook it from dry, and this can take up to an hour. However, you only need to chuck it in a saucepan with a lid on low heat and leave it, so it’s really not too much trouble at all.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 100g of pearl barley, prepared as per instructions on the pack
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • A large handful of shiitake mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g goat’s cheese, roughly broken into chunks
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the chopped onions and crushed garlic, the bay leaf and the thyme and cook for around 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the cooked pearl barley to the pan
  3. Slowly add the stock, stirring continuously as if you were making a risotto
  4. Once all the stock has been absorbed transfer the pearl barley to a large dish to cool, remove the thyme and the bay leaf (this part of the recipe can all be done ahead of time, once the barley is cooled it can be kept in the fridge for later)
  5. Heat a frying pan, add the butter
  6. Add the mushrooms to the butter and season with salt and pepper, sauté for about 5 minutes
  7. Add the barley and cook for 5-10 minutes
  8. In a separate pan fry 2 eggs
  9. Throw the chunks of goats cheese into the barley and stir through
  10. Divide the barley between two bowls, and top each with a fried egg


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