Pumpkin Barley Orzotto (not Risotto) – Orzotto alla Mantovana

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Invited to an inauguration for future cooking classes in a fine kitchen-ware shop called “Ottagoni” in  Rome’s Trastevere area last week …..

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I espied a lone-looking chef deep within the bowels of this snazzy showroom selling Cesar kitchens.  I would have made a beeline in his direction but the throng was such that I had to dart in and out of oncoming human traffic …

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And so it took me some time …

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His name is Andrea Trenta and he told me that he used to run a restaurant near Sacrofano. Bent as he was on preparing what he was preparing, I did not want to pester him by posing too many questions … but I could not stop myself from ooohing and aaahing over his inventive dish!

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IMG_1821 What I was oohing and aahing over was … an Orzotto (made with pearl barley) that he was preparing using squash/pumpkin and mostarda essence, with amaretti bisuits and pecorino romano.  Clever thing!, I thought to myself … he has drawn on the tradition of Mantova by using squash and amaretto biscuits, he has made it seasonal (pumpkin) and he has made it ‘local’ by using products and produce that were sourced directly from the organic farm Ecofattorie Sabine (http://www.ecofattorie.it/).

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He explained the amounts he was playing with : 4kg of pearl barley, 6kg of pumpkin/squash, 1.5 kg of pecorino.  Not the sort of amounts I normally deal with in my own kitchen!

IMG_1834And here was my little stash … together with a very nice glass of beautifully cold Stajnbech Chardonnay.  And it was delicious.

I made some carrot and pumpkin soup the other day and I had some left over … and so I thought I would follow Andrea Trenta’s suit … and here is my version then.

2Leftover soup … made with onion and garlic, carrots, pumpkin, lemonjuice and salt and pepper …

1The packet of pearl barley … (bought at a supermarket, note, not something I do often … and that’s because I didn’t do the shopping.  Helpful helper was asked to kindly do the food shopping and when I asked for pearl barley, said helper trotted off to the supermarket, tsk tsk).

3I didn’t have any ‘mostarda’ nor mostarda essence … so I opted for some good quality balsamic vinegar (in the background) instead … and in the front are the amaretti biscuits.

4I grated some pecorino romano cheese …

5I began to sauté a red onion in some olive oil on a fairly moderate heat.

6I turned on the heat to bring the soup to a simmer and also added some water — I could see it wasn’t going to be enough liquid otherwise.

7Once the onion had softened, I added the orzo … the pearl barley.

8I stirred it well so that it would get coated with the olive oil.

9And immediately added some of the soup.  Orzo is not rice … and even rice does not need constant stirring … so I just stirred when I fancied it.  I kept adding ladles of the soup by and by.

10I started off by wanting to add 5 amaretti biscuits.  I ended up using 8 altogether.  I poured the balsamico into the wooden spoon – that’s the amount I used altogether since it was quite potent.

11I crushed the amaretti first … and added them towards the end of the cooking time.  I added the balsamico immediately afterwards.  After stirring them in and tasting, I added a little salt and white pepper.

12When the orzotto was almost ready, I added the grated pecorino cheese.

13And then I added some butter too:

14I am positive that Andrea Trenta didn’t add butter … but I love butter so there you are.  It melted almost straight away.

And that was it!

15I grated a little more pecorino directly over the orzotto … added two sage leaves … and one amaretto biscuit as garnish.

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It was actually very very nice and I am going to make it again.  The only thing I hadn’t realised … is that barley takes between 30 and 40 minutes to cook, much longer than a risotto.

Thank you Andrea Trenta!

P.S.  For those who did not know, barley is one of those super foods:

http://www.oprah.com/health/Barley-Dr-Perricones-No-3-Superfood

PPS Here is another pearl barley orzotto recipe — there must be a “Great-Minds-Think-Alike as Regards Pearl Barley Syndrome” wending through our autumnal kitchens! –posted by peripatetic food lover and chef-on-the-move Kay Gale recently: http://thesinglegourmetandtraveller.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/mushroom-rocket-orzotto/

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About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in Basic Techniques, italian home food, Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pumpkin Barley Orzotto (not Risotto) – Orzotto alla Mantovana

  1. What a wonderful and exciting recipe and thanks so much for the link 🙂 x

  2. Francesca says:

    Jo, this is such a creative alternative to the amaretti and pumpkin risotto that I usually make. The addition of balsamic vinegar is simply precious! 🙂

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