Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

This week's healthy recipe: salmon pearl barley risotto

This week's healthy recipe: pearl barley risotto with salmon

The thing about risotto is that it can be rather deceptive. A serving might not seem particularly calorific; it doesn't involve anything deep fried, and isn't served swimming in sauce, after all. Yet in a restaurant situation, it's likely that to achieve that silken texture and rich flavour, the chef will have added lashings of butter and cheese in the final stages of the cooking process. This means that the levels of saturated fat and sodium will be high.

Nevertheless, this dish can easily be made more healthy. Swap the traditional white risotto rice for nutty, slightly chewy pearl barley and you're well on your away. Pearl barley is a good source of heart-healthy soluble fibre, calcium and potassium and it contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It also has a low glycemic index (as opposed to white risotto rice) meaning that (among other benefits) when you eat it you stay fuller for longer, and don't experience a peak in blood sugar and insulin levels. In terms of cooking, it isn't as temperamental as risotto rice. This means that while you do still have to keep an eye on it, it doesn't demand that you're chained to the hob the whole time.

The green vegetables add essential vitamins and minerals to the risotto. Spinach is thought of as a "super food" because of its numerous health benefits and salmon is a good fish to incorporate into you're diet; it is high in protein, vitamins and magnesium and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. In order to reduce calories, this recipe refrains from using butter and uses a small amount of low-fat cream cheese.


Pearl barley risotto with salmon

150g frozen peas

60g baby spinach

80g low-fat cream cheese (we used low-fat labneh)

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 salmon fillet, approximately 175g

1 lemon,

3 sprigs thyme

few sprigs of chervil

onion, peeled and finely chopped

120g pearl barley

650 ml hot stock (fish, chicken or vegetable)

Salt and black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the peas to the water and after three minutes, add the spinach. Cook for a further 30 seconds, then drain well and tip into a blender. Add the cheese and a splash of water, and blend to a purée. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.

Cut a square of foil about 30cm by 20cm. Drizzle over 1 tsp of olive oil and place the salmon fillet in the centre. Halve the lemon: thinly slice one of the halves and squeeze the juice out of the other. Mix the juice with 25ml of cold water and pour over the salmon. Arrange the lemon slices and herbs on top of the fish, season generously with black pepper and fold the edges of the foil together to seal. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked.

While the salmon is cooking, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over a low heat for four to six minutes. Add the pearl barley to the pan, stir well and pour over approximately 1/3 of the stock. Cook over a medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, and adding more stock to the pan as the liquid is absorbed.

Taste to check that the pearl barley is cooked (it has a naturally chewy texture), then stir in the pea and spinach purée. Unwrap the salmon and flake the fish into pieces. Spoon the risotto into two bowls, top with the salmon and serve.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National