saffron barley with greens

saffron barley with greens_shorkk

Saffron barley with greens and is an autumnal one pot recipe based on Nigella Lawson’s saffron orzotto. Pearl barley is a handy thing to have in a kitchen cupboard, more forgiving than risotto rice since you don’t need to stir all the time. Just add the hot stock, bring to the boil and put the lid on for 25 minutes. Zejd’s saffron gives the dish a warm seasonal hue, as well as adding flavour to the barley. The finely chopped swiss chard leaves folded in at the end of the cooking only need a couple of minutes with the lid on. Leaving you with one pan to wash up!

Feel free to add in different dark green leaves, adjusting the cooking time if you choose kale or cavolo nero. A crunchy topping? A couple of slices of pancetta fried, and placed on top. Or for those wanting to keep it vegetarian, crunchy garlic. Slice some garlic finely, and fry in Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil until golden. Keep the garlic infused oil for drizzling over the top of the dish or any other.  Another plus point, barley re-heats better than risotto, if you have any leftovers. 

Serve as a main course with a generous scattering of parmesan, or as a side dish for fish or chicken. 

serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish. 


750ml light chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp Zejd saffron
1 banana shallot or small onion
250g pearl barley, rinsed 
30ml dry white wine or vermouth
handful of greens, slice finely
30g parmesan, grated

2 cloves of garlic, sliced finely and fried in Zejd extra virgin olive (optional)
2 slices of pancetta, fried until crispy 


  1. Heat the stock in a small pan.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the saffron strands gently in a small frying pan for 10 sec and then grind in a pestle and mortar. Skip this step if you don’t have a pestle and mortar. Add a tablespoon of hot water to the saffron and leave to infuse.
  3. Warm 2 tablespoons of Zejd extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, with a lid, and add the chopped shallot or onion. Cook until soft, but not golden. 
  4. Add the rinsed barley, moving it around the pan, then add the white wine or vermouth and stir. 
  5. Pour in the hot stock and the saffron, bring to the boil and put the lid on. Turn down to a simmer. Leave for 25-30 minutes checking to make sure there’s still liquid towards the end. The barley should have a bite.
  6. Now add the sliced greens mixing them into the barley, adding a touch more water or stock if needed. Replace the lid and leave for 2 minutes or so until they’re soft. 
  7. Stir in the parmesan and serve with a topping of your choice and some extra grated parmesan on top. 
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