If you were to ask the average, meat eating human what their idea of ‘comfort food’ was, they would likely be able to reel of a huge list of cheesy, meaty and buttery dishes. We think of comfort as a treat, but I see it as something warm and filling and rendering thoughts of childhood.For me, comfort food is carb heavy, hot and served in a bowl. While I never really ate risotto as a child my parents were huge fans of spice and when they ate curry, I was often made a colourful but slightly milder rice dish to enjoy with them in the evening. I want to share with you my favourite risotto recipe. It’s vegan, cheap and nutritious. It’s also gluten free and interestingly, doesn’t contain rice!
The prep takes a little time but it’s worth the effort and you could prepare the ingredients and keep them in fridge until you were ready to cook, if you really wanted to. You can use rice for a gluten free version too.
Rich Tomato Pearl Risotto
Roughly half a kilo of tomatoes (cheap varieties are fine)
3 cloves of strong garlic
1 tsp sage
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper
3 cups pearl barley
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
Vegetable stock (around 1 litre but I usually add this as I go)
Preheat your oven to 170.
In an oven dish, roast the tomatoes whole, no oil, just salt and pepper until the skins become loose.
Remove the skins and continue to cook until the tomatoes shrink and begin to secrete juice. Keep going! They need to become a little leathery, then they’re perfect. Cool and set aside.
In a pan, melt the coconut oil and add the onions, then the garlic and herbs- sweat on a medium low heat until starting to soften, then add the pearl barley.
Make sure every grain is coated in the oil and add a little stock to stop it from sticking.
Add the tomato paste and a little more stock.
Blend 2/3 of the roasted tomatoes and add to the barley with a little more stock.
Each time the stock seems to have almost absorbed, add a little more.
Chop the remaining tomatoes and add to the mixture.
Test the barley. When it’s almost ready, add the soy sauce, tahini and nutritional yeast. This will give your risotto a creamy consistency.
Top with vegan cheez, nutritional yeast or even the crispy tomato skins and enjoy.
This makes 2-3 portions.