A rustic mushroom risotto main made with barley and amaranth instead of traditional rice, topped with confit pearl onions, baby mushrooms and popped amaranth. Recipes by Yolanda Schoeman. Photographs by Kelly Zetler.

Confit of Pearl Onions and Baby Button Mushrooms

8 pearl onions
50g baby button mushrooms, stems removed
100ml vegetable oil
4 sprigs lemon thyme

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Place the pearl onions, mushrooms, vegetable oil and thyme into a ceramic dish. Make sure that all of the ingredients are covered at least two-thirds in oil otherwise add more oil. Cover with foil and roast in the oven until soft and golden brown.

Mushroom Reduction

250ml mushroom stock
50ml Balsamic vinegar
10ml sugar

  • Place the mushroom stock, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Barley and Amaranth ‘Risotto’

20ml vegetable oil
20g butter
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
200g mushroom variety, diced
200ml barley (soaked for 2 hours in cold water)
50ml amaranth
30ml white wine
1l mushroom stock, hot

  • Heat the oil and melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add the onions and garlic and sweat.
  • Add the mushroom variety and sauté until golden brown. Add the drained barley and amaranth to the mixture and stir until it is coated with the onions and mushrooms.
  • Add the white wine and cook off the alcohol. Add 60ml hot mushroom stock at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the grains to completely absorb the liquid each time before adding more. Continue adding hot stock until the grains are cooked.

Amaranth Popcorn

50g amaranth

  • Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan without any oil. When the pan is very hot, carefully pour in the amaranth seeds – avoid covering the entire bottom of the saucepan. Quickly cover the pan with a lid. When all the grains have finished jumping, immediately remove from the heat and pour the amaranth ‘popcorn’ into a bowl.

To Serve

  • Place the risotto in a ring mould in the centre of the plate. Remove the mould and place the confit pearl onions on top. Serve together with the confit button mushrooms and drizzle with the mushroom reduction. Use the amaranth popcorn as garnish.

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Mushroom Consommé