This is probably one of the best things I've made in a while. It was a bit of a faff to make as barley risotto takes forever, but the flavour, oh the flavour was just wonderful.
Barley Risotto Bake (from Veggie and the Beast)
1.5l vegetable stock
3 tbsp oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped finely
360g pearl barley
125ml white wine
1/2 tsp dried oregano
60g ricotta cheese
60g goat cheese, crumbled
225g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
225g artichoke hearts, chopped
85g spinach, chopped
4 tbsp pesto
25g Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 180C.
Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to simmer over a medium heat. In a separate pan, saute the onion in 2 tbsp of oil over a medium heat until soft and translucent. Then add the barley, and stir until it is lightly toasted, 2-3 mins.
Pour in the white wine, along with the oregano, and stir until the wine is fully absorbed, another 3 mins or so. Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring until the mixture absorbs the broth, then add another cup. It’s important to stir constantly, because it brings out the starch in the barley and makes it more risotto-esque. Once all the broth has been ladled in and absorbed, stir in the ricotta and the goat cheese until fully incorporated.
Heat the remaining oil, 1 tbsp, in a pan over medium heat. Add the sundried tomatoes, artichoke and spinach, and stir for 2-3 mins, until the spinach gets soft. Remove the veg from the heat.
Spread half the barley mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking pan coated with cooking spray. Top the barley with 2 tbsp of pesto, then half of the veg mixture. Repeat the layers, then sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Cover it with foil, then put it in the oven for 30 mins. Remove the foil, and let it cook for another 5-10 mins, until the Parmesan has melted to your liking.
Try to resist cutting into it for 5 minutes or so. That will allow the casserole to set, so when you take out a piece it holds together nicely.