Barley Risotto Recipe with Minced Pork and Spinach

We cook to this barley risotto recipe all the time because it is just 5 minutes work, 30 minutes waiting and you get a dish, tasty as something. Looks rustic, but hey… I never promised posh food.

This weekend was a bit crazy in our household. We celebrated our little girl’s first birthday and had people around the whole weekend. As you might know, it is always a lot of work if you are throwing a birthday party. Especially if you have a small child in house.

For our guests, we slow cooked a pork shoulder with coleslaw for dinner, and it turned out delicious. But we had to have something quick and good for lunch. Not as heavy as the planned dinner, but still filling enough so we don’t collapse before dinner. The ever colder weather in this time of the year also calls for a bit heavier dishes.

barley risotto recipe

I think we have forgotten barley in the last years. We rarely use it, but I really don’t know why. It has great nutrition value and you can use it instead of rice or maybe in salads.

barley risotto recipe spinach

barley risotto recipe garlic

My barley risotto recipe is relay easy, very tasty and of course it does not contain dairy, eggs and nuts.

This recipe will serve 4 people so let’s go and cook it.

Ingredients list:

  • 3 table spoons olive oil and some extra for “dairy free mantecatura”
  • 2 white onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 350 g minced pork
  • 300 g pearl barley
  • 150 g spinach
  • 2 dl white wine (dry!)
  • 1 l water or (even better) vegetable stock if you have it
  • salt
  • pepper
  • two small or one bigger carrot (optional)


Finely chop onions and garlic. Heat up a pan with 3 table spoons olive oil in it, and add onions. Cook for a few minutes, and then add garlic. Then, immediately add minced pork and stir until most of those little pieces are browned and they smell amazing. If your meat was of questionable quality and you find it cooking in its own water, wait until all  the liquid evaporates, and only then it will brown and start smelling nice. Not as nice as if you had good meat, but you know what I mean.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil. You will need it in a few minutes.

Now that you have browned the meat, you can add the barley, spinach, grated carrots, if you decided to use it, and white wine. Some would then bring it to a gentle simmer, but I find it better to just bring it to a violent boil. The alcohol evaporates quicker, everything reduces quicker, and what you end up with at this time is a concentrate of flavor.

barley risotto recipe

Add hot water, so that it covers your barley. Add salt and pepper, stir, cover, and forget about it. Come back every few minutes and add more water if needed. From this point, it needs approximately 30 minutes cooking. Sometimes even a little more. You want the water to evaporate to a point when the dish still looks a little too wet. Do not worry, the excess liquid will be soaked up by the barley risotto as it cools down.

Because this is a dairy free barley risotto recipe, we can’t use cheese or butter.

Everyone knows, you can’t have a very good risotto-like dish without some proper mantecatura. But since this is a dairy free barley risotto recipe, we can’t use Parmesan cheese. Or any other cheese, for that matter. No, butter also isn’t an option. But, like always, there is a way around it, and it is still very nice. The trick is to turn off the heat, pour in 3 table spoons olive oil, stir, and let rest for a few minutes.

Done. Enjoy;)

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