Chef's Recipes

Pearl barley with artichokes, pecorino and nettle butter

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for pearl barley with artichokes, pecorino and nettle butter by Alex Kearns from Glebe Point Diner and Neutral Bay Bar & Dining.

By Alex Kearns
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 6
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Pearl barley with artichokes, pecorino and nettle butter
“The pearl barley is really comforting and you can use the leftover nettle butter for months – melt it over an omelette or finish meat with it.”


  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 400 gm pearl barley, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, drained (2 cups)
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (8 cups)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100 gm finely grated pecorino
  • 1 each carrot, onion and celery stalk, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 globe artichokes
Nettle butter
  • 4 cups stinging nettles (see note) (firmly packed)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley (firmly packed)
  • 200 gm softened butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon


  • 1
    For artichokes, combine carrot, onion, celery, herbs, wine and vinegar in a large saucepan, add 2 litres water, season to taste, bring to the boil. Meanwhile, remove outer leaves from artichokes and peel outer flesh from stalk. Add artichokes to stock, cover with baking paper, submerge with a plate. Bring to the simmer over medium heat, remove from heat, stand until completely cool. Remove artichokes, halve lengthways and remove hairy chokes with a teaspoon. Thinly slice, set aside.
  • 2
    Heat oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves and sauté until tender (12-15 minutes). Add barley and deglaze pan with wine, then add vegetable stock a ladle at a time, allowing it to be absorbed without evaporating too much, until all stock is added and barley is tender (30-35 minutes), adding artichokes during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for nettle butter, blanch nettles and parsley in boiling water until just tender (20-30 seconds). Refresh, drain, finely chop, wrap in a tea towel, squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a bowl with butter, garlic, lemon rind and juice, season to taste, mix well to combine.
  • 4
    Stir half the butter through barley (remaining will keep frozen for 3 months), add lemon juice, season to taste and serve scattered with pecorino.


Stinging nettles are available from select Italian greengrocers and will need to be ordered in advance.
This recipe is from the October 2010 issue of
Drink Suggestion: 2007 Mayer Bloody Hill Chardonnay. Drink suggestion by Jake Smyth

  • Author: Alex Kearns