Andrew MacKenzie uses this dish to get his kids to try different vegetables. He plays a game where the little ones close their eyes, eat a part of the face and guess which bit they’ve eaten – an ingenious way to help kids forget their fear of veg!
Start the dish the night before by soaking your pearl barley. The next day, drain and rinse well.
To make the tomato sauce, plunge the tomatoes into a pan of boiling water for a couple of seconds, then transfer to a bowl of iced water. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds then dice the flesh and set aside. Don’t throw away your leftover tomato – you can use these for a number of dishes such as gazpacho, tomato soup and a variety of sauces.
Add oil to a pan and set over a medium-low heat. When hot, add the garlic and shallots and sweat. Add the tomato, 200ml vegetable stock and cook for 15 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a blender, pulse until smooth and pass through a sieve. Set aside until needed.
To make the risotto, add the vegetable oil to a heavy bottomed pan and set over a medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and shallots and cook until translucent.
Add the pearl barley to the pan and fry slowly for 2 minutes. A little at a time, add the tomato sauce until all is used up, stirring continuously as you go.
Slowly pour in the remaining stock and keep stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the pearl barley is tender.
One at a time, cook the green beans, baby corn and beetroot for two minutes each in lightly salted boiling water. Make sure you cook the beetroot last as it doesn’t take very long to cook – to save time you can used pre-cooked beetroot if you wish.
Add the Parmesan to the risotto, stir well and divide between 4 plates in flat circles to make ‘faces’.
Arrange the vegetables on top to make faces (carrots for mouth, corn for nose, beetroot for eyes and beans for eyebrows) and serve immediately.
Hand the reigns over to the kids and get them to make faces using the vegetables! Carrots can be used to make mouths, beans can make eyebrows and so on. Let their imaginations run wild and see who can create the funniest face!
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