New cookbook! I had the pleasure of trying out a fantastic new cookbook: Jerusalem: A Cookbook. It’s the third book by Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty and Ottolenghi. He’s a chef in London, with 4 restaurants (I definitely would love to visit London again and visit them!). His cookbooks are full of amazing photographs and delicious ethnic food. For some reason, ethnic foods (of any variety) somewhat intimidate me, because they seem so specialized. However, many of the ‘ethnic’ style foods are actually quite easy to prepare– probably because they have been made for centuries, with little specialized equipment or high-tech devices. They are also quite tasty, and many times healthy, to boot.
The first recipe I tried from the book is this Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta. It’s a non-traditional risotto, by the fact that it’s not made with wine or Parmesan cheese. Rather, the richness comes from cooking it over low heat with plenty of tomatoes. It’s also got quite a few different herbs included (such as thyme, smoked paprika, bay leaf, chile flakes, and caraway seeds), which make the flavor of this dish phenomenal! I highly recommend it. The marinated feta (made by soaking the feta in olive oil and topping it with toasted caraway seeds), finishes off this dish perfectly, adding the creamy texture to this comfort food dish.
I served this risotto with a green bean salad (also from the book) on the side, which, while it had an ‘interesting’ flavor (by this I mean a strong, but good flavor), it didn’t quite go with the hearty, tomato flavor of the risotto. Oh well, at least I tired something new!
I’m definitely excited to make more recipes from this cookbook, including chicken with cardamom rice (I’ve discovered I love cardamom!), and the lemony leek meatballs (I also love leeks!), as well as some of the lamb recipes, as I don’t think I’ve ever cooked lamb yet.
Barley Risotto with Feta
A tasty treat with a non-traditional style. Phenomenal!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small celery stalks, diced
- 2 small shallots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 strips lemon peel
- 14 tsp chile flakes
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1¼ cups passata (sieved crushed tomatoes)
- 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
- 10½ oz feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- Salt, to taste
- Rinse the pearl barley under cold water.
- Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the celery, shallots, and garlic over low heat for 5 minutes, until soft.
- Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chile flakes, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, passata (sieved crushed tomatoes), and some salt. Stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. When ready, most of the liquid will be absorbed, and the barley should be tender. (Bite into one to be sure.)
- Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and lightly crush the seeds, keeping some whole.
- Add the crushed seeds and 4 tablespoons olive oil to the feta and mix to combine.
- Serve the risotto in individual bowls, and top with the feta and a sprinkle of fresh oregano leaves.
Source: Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ten Speed Press.