One-Pot Wonders

A Streamlined, One-Pot Wonder Risotto—the Ottolenghi Way

March 30, 2017

I recently asked a few friends for their back-pocket recipes—the ones that never fail to please, the ones they can make in their sleep. One friend told me she has yet to feed the barley risotto from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem to someone and not have them like it. She also noted that she improvises to account for her varying pantry inventory, and it always turns out well.

Turn these few ingredients into magic Photo by Alexandra Stafford

This all sounded promising. I immediately opened my copy of Jersualem and set to work making a dish I have no idea how I have overlooked—the recipe is not only accompanied by a stunning photograph, but also calls for relatively few ingredients, most of which I always have on hand.

This is the basic process: sauté shallots, garlic and celery until soft, then add the barley, smoked paprika (and a few other seasonings), crushed tomatoes, and broth all at once. There’s no need to add the liquid incrementally as you do when making traditional risotto, and there’s no need to stir constantly either. Ottolenghi finishes the dish with cubes of feta marinated briefly in olive oil and crushed caraway seeds.

One pan, a few steps, and voilà! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

For risotto, it tastes incredibly light, the predominant flavor being tomato with a hint of smoke thanks to the paprika. At the end of the 45-minute simmer, the grains retain a nice chew, and the cubes of feta, folded in gently at the end, soften, holding their shape while lending a slight creaminess.

Start to finish, the dish takes about an hour, prep and all, but once it’s simmering, there’s no extensive hands-on work. I’ve since made the dish several times, and have found a way to simplify the process: I omit several ingredients (butter, celery, fresh oregano, and caraway). I substitute others (barley with farro, because I typically have it, shallots with onions, and vegetable stock with water). I don’t marinate the feta anymore. And I stir in kale or chard at the end to make it more of a one-pot wonder.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

The essential seasonings here, for me, are lemon peel, whose fresh citrus flavor somehow pervades the tomato base, and smoked paprika, which is subtle enough to keep diners guessing. Thus far, this risotto has been very well received—soon, no doubt, it will slip into back pocket stature.

Have back pocket recipes? Share them here!


Jill T. April 24, 2017
Do you recommend sweet or hot paprika? I didn't realize there were so many varieties!
Nora April 5, 2017
How do people feel when they post a great recipe and others immediately begin to riff on it? Happy, I hope. I made this with spelt, because I had it, and spinach because I had it. Delicious. I can imagine keeping meal-sized portions of the cooked grain in the freezer for quick meals. I think a poached egg, or chicken, or sausage, or shrimp, or Greek olives, or marinate artichoke hearts, or almost anything would keep me riffing forever.
Author Comment
Alexandra S. April 5, 2017
So happy to hear this, Nora! Poached egg sounds so good here. Happy riffing :)
Jon D. April 2, 2017
Has anyone made this is their Instant Pot? I'm just learning to use mine...
Teddee G. April 2, 2017
And viola? Who's Viola? The recipe sounds great. The French not so much.
juliunruly April 2, 2017
It sounds a lot better than your pointless snark. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
arcane54 April 2, 2017
Looks delicious! I have some shrimp I was going to add the a risotto Milanese tonight, but this might be my new dinner. For those of you seeking as easier risotto (almost one-pot; definitely little-stir) Cook's Illustrated had a great recipe in their May 2010 issue. I've had fantastic results with many variations on this recipe - mushrooms, chicken, shrimp, saffron, different cheeses....
Author Comment
Alexandra S. April 2, 2017
Thanks for the tip! Sounds like a great recipe. Will check it out.