Barley risotto with sweet potato, port glazed onion and toasted walnuts

Barley risotto with sweet potato, port glazed onion and toasted walnuts


1 person made this

About this recipe: Okay, it could be argued that this isn't a risotto, but pilaf doesn't seem fitting either. Whatever it is, this dish is a vegan delight. I'm not vegan in the slightest, but this is truly a beautiful combination of winter flavours that simply stands its own without the addition of cheese, butter or meat.

Diana Greater London, England, UK

Serves: 4 

  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 70g chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, sliced into 6mm rounds
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 75ml port
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Prep:15min  ›  Cook:45min  ›  Ready in:1hr 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6.
  2. Roast the sweet potato: Toss the diced sweet potato with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a bit of salt. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and browned.
  3. Cook the barley: Meanwhile, heat the vegetable stock over high heat in a large saucepan with the barley. Bring to the boil, cover, and lower heat to medium. Cook at a simmer, stirring periodically, for 30 minutes or until tender. Add more liquid as necessary if all has been absorbed but the barley isn't to your desired doneness.
  4. Toast the walnuts: In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the chopped walnuts until lightly browned. Set aside.
  5. Caramelise the onions: In a frying pan, heat the 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Stir only occasionally. After stirring, every few minutes or so, add a teaspoon of water as needed to release the caramelised bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue this process until the onions are soft and caramelised, about 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of caramelising, add the port instead of water, and let the port evaporate entirely.
  6. Assemble: Once the barley is tender, add the roasted sweet potato to the pot and toss. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir, taking care not to break apart the sweet potato.
  7. Spoon the barley mixture onto serving plates; top with the caramelised onion and toasted walnuts. Serve and enjoy!


Use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock if you aren't fussed about it being vegetarian.

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