Veganuary Day 3: Tomato Pearl Barley Risotto 

My tomato and basil pasta has been a staple in my cooking repertoire for years, so I’m adapting it for Veganuary to make it slightly more nutritious. I’m swapping the pasta for pearl barley, as a whole grain it has far more health benefits than pasta.

What’s more, it tastes amazing too! The Man happily accepts this dish on its own merits rather than appreciating it as a vegan recipe. The creaminess is achieved from nutritional yeast but this can be substituted for Parmesan for a non-vegan version.


  • 200g pearl barley, rinsed
  • 300ml veg stock
  • 8-10 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 2 x large echalion shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2 x garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 x tsp dried thyme
  • 2 x tbsp nutritional yeast (or grated Parmesan for non-vegan version)
  • Small bunch of basil, shredded
  • A couple of handfuls of rocket

Cut a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and place in a pan of boiling water until the skins become loose. Peel and chop off the flesh, discarding the core.

Meanwhile, sweat the shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the pearl barley and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, thyme and most of the stock (reserve a little in case it needs it later). Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat, partially covered for 30-35 minutes. Stir regularly to ensure the pearl barley doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the nutritional yeast (or Parmesan) 5 minutes before the end of cooking time. Add the rocket until wilted and stir in the basil to serve.

The Man was going to add chorizo to his risotto tonight but decided against it. Secretly I was quite pleased with his meat abstinence and it also proves just how tasty this dish is for a meat eater too.

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