Barley risotto with honey & thyme roasted parsnips

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The following recipe is inspired by the Meat Free Monday movement. A New Zealand branch has just been established and I'm really excited about it.

In the last year we've cut down the amount of meat we eat to just a couple of times a week max. People choose to cut out or eat less meat for a variety of reasons. For me it's largely environmentally and health motivated. All of us eating meat heavy diets is not only bad for us healthwise, it's entirely unsustainable on a global level. 

Moving to (and enjoying) a more plant and wholegrains based diet starts with building up a repertoire of dishes that are relatively simple to make and totally delicious. 

My barley risotto with honey and thyme roasted parsnips is a nourishing midweek meal. Serve with some steamed green beans for a complete plate. You'll feel satisfied, body and mind.

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Barley Risotto with Honey and Thyme Roasted Parsnips

Risotto

1 cup pearled or hulled barley (preferably soaked for 6 hours or overnight prior)

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup white wine

1 onion finely diced

3 large cloves garlic finely chopped

Handful of parsley

3 sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp butter (optional)

Olive oil

Honey & thyme roasted parsnips

3 large parsnips chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon honey 

Handful of thyme sprigs

Tbsp of rosemary leaves

2 Tbsp oil

sea salt 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Gently melt honey. Place parsnips, honey, thyme and oil in a large bowl and combine. Sprinkle with salt.

Place parsnips in oven and cook for approximately 25 or until golden and tender.

Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in a frypan on a medium heat. Gently fry garlic and onion until soft.

Add barley and 1 sprig of thyme. Stir.

Gently add 1/2 cup stock at a time to the pan (as you would for a rice risotto) stirring constantly. The barley will take 30-40 mins to cook.

Add parsley and 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil) and cook for a few minutes.

Serve the parsnips on top of the barley. Top with cracked black pepper and more chopped parsley if desired.

(vegetarian if vegetable stock used. Vegan if butter also omitted)

Lovely additions to the risotto would be:

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbled over just before serving.

finely chopped kale or silverbeet added five minutes before end of cooking time.

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