Char-grilled asparagus and chicken with barley risotto

Wholegrain goodness with barley replacing rice in this flavour packed risotto. Make plenty so you can pack leftovers into lunchboxes.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery stalks, chopped
200g barley, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano leaves (see tip)
4 strips peeled lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 cup tomato passata
600g chicken tenderloin fillets
2 bunches asparagus, woody ends removed
200g marinated feta, broken roughly into 2cm pieces
Fresh oregano leaves, to serve


1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir-fry onion, garlic and celery until softened.

2. Add barley, bay leaf, paprika, oregano, lemon rind, chilli flakes, stock, tomatoes and passata. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of liquid has been absorbed and barley is tender.

3. Meanwhile brush chicken and asparagus with oil. Heat and BBQ or grill plate and cook chicken until lightly coloured and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Cook asparagus until just tender but still bright green. Remove from heat and cut asparagus spears into large bite-size pieces.

4. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and combine with asparagus pieces and risotto. Season risotto to taste adding a little more chilli if needed.

5. Divide risotto between serving bowls and top with marinated feta pieces and fresh oregano leaves.


  • For a delicious vegetarian version replace chicken stock with vegetable stock and use char-grilled Swiss Brown mushrooms instead of chicken.
  • Smoked paprika gives the risotto a delicious smoky flavour.
  • For extra flavour add roasted red capsicum. BBQ or grill a whole red capsicum until blackened. Cool, remove skin, slice and combine with risotto before serving.
  • Greek Oregano makes a difference in this dish. It is sold in a bunch in Greek and European delicatessens.

Recipe provided by the Australian Asparagus Council.