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Sea bass and pearl barley risotto

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Adjust Servings:
2 parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
1/2 white onion, peeled and finely diced
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
150g pearl barley
600ml hot stock, made up with one fish or vegetable stock cube
4 sea bass fillets
1/2 x 220g pack tenderstem broccoli
6 purple basil leaves
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dairy-free butter
1 lemon, 1/2 juiced, 1/2 cut into wedges

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Sea bass and pearl barley risotto

A dish to impress on date night. Unlike a traditional risotto made with arborio rice, this version uses pearl barley – an inexpensive wholegrain known as hulled barley – and is topped with parsnip crisps, crispy sea bass and a purple basil vinaigrette.

    • 55 Mins
    • Serves 2
    • Hard



    • TO SERVE


    1. Using a mandolin, slice one parsnip into thin strips and coat in one teaspoon of olive oil. Spread out on a lined baking tray and lightly season.

    2. Bake in a preheated oven at 150C for 20-25 minutes until golden and crisp. Dice the other parsnip into small cubes and set aside.

    3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion over a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and starting to colour. Add the fresh rosemary, garlic and parsnip cubes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.

    4. Toast the pearl barley in a dry pan for 30 seconds before adding to the onion and parsnip mix with a ladleful of stock and some seasoning.

    5. Stir frequently and cook over a low-to-medium heat until nearly all the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding the stock gradually and continue to simmer and stir until the pearl barley is plump and tender – this should take about 20 to 25 minutes.

    6. By the time the final 100ml of stock is added, the risotto should be almost cooked. If the pearl barley is still undercooked, add a splash of hot water and continue to cook, stirring often.

    7. To prepare the sea bass fillets, blot the skin and flesh dry with kitchen paper and cut 5 or 6 slits in the skin. Season generously and in batches, pan-fry two fillets, skin-side down, in a lightly-oiled pan over a medium-to-high heat for 5 minutes but don’t be tempted to keep moving the fish. Once the skin crisps, you can flip it easily without it sticking to the pan.

    8. After 5 minutes, turn the heat down and cook for 30 seconds, flesh side down. Remove from the heat and keep warm while you cook the remaining two fillets.

    9. Place the broccoli in a steamer over boiling water and cook for 4-6 minutes depending on the size. Meanwhile, make a quick vinaigrette in a blender by blitzing the basil, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

    10. To finish the risotto, stir in the butter and season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

    11. Leave the risotto to sit for two minutes, then divide between bowls. Top with  the tenderstem broccoli, crispy sea bass and parsnip crisps before serving.

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