So of course rice is out of the question in our kitchen. To be fair, we did not eat a lot of it before, but every so often we cooked a risotto - it allowed us to get rid of some things in the fridge and be still really nice. We bought a pack of pearl barley during our first 'Britain in our Kitchen' shopping trip only on the basis that it was British - and that will work out what to do with it at some point.
So 2 'risottos' later (leek and bacon - delicious) using pearl barley in risottos is definitely a great substitute. Of course now that we googled it everyone has been talking about it, and there are many very good recipe online. We cook it like risotto rice, by adding gradually vegetable stock. And it reacts much like Risotto Rice and absorbs all the liquid.
Just a note, it is really filling - much more than risotto, so it is probably good to go 3/4 of the rice proportions, unless you are starving of course!