To make the risotto:
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the pearl barley and cook for 1 minute.
Add a quarter of the stock to the saucepan and simmer, whilst stirring occasionally to make sure the barley doesn't stick to the base of the pan. When the stock is absorbed, add another quarter of stock and continue in this way until all the stock is absorbed. The risotto should be tender with a slight ‘bite’.
Trim the woody ends of the asparagus and chop the spears into bite-size diagonal pieces. Stir in the asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes. Season and stir in half of the pea shoots and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with the remaining pea shoots. Serve with a tablespoon of mint pesto per person.
To make the pesto:
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse to form a paste. Transfer to a small serving bowl. To store extra pesto transfer to a glass jar, pour over some olive oil and refrigerate. This mint pesto can be made in advance and is also delicious with roast spring lamb.
Additional serving suggestions:
A sprinkling of finely grated Grana Padano
Poached or soft-boiled egg