Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gnarls Barley

Tis the season for boat loads of leafy greens.  We have planted our garden for the third consecutive year and it seems to be pretty fantastic thus far in the early stages of the growing season.  Since the last two years didn't pan out so well, we also joined a CSA, just to be on the safe side (which is a whole other topic for another day).  Needless to say there is no shortage of green in these parts.
Here's a little sample of what's taking place in the garden.  We have a vibrant row of rainbow chard.
A couple of rows of spinach (which looks so good but we've received a pound and a half each week from the CSA so I think we'll let this go a bit longer).
We also have a nice lettuce mix and a variety of herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.).
We like fresh greens and steamed greens and green smoothies too.  But clearly we are going to need to get creative.  This Barley Risotto recipe was posted on Facebook by Food Inc. and I immediately looked it up and saved it.  Of course I had grocery store greens to use up since I had no idea what was coming in the box last week!
I am a big barley fan.  I'm not even sure why because I haven't really had it all that much.  I was craving it before I ever had it in anything but beef barley soup.  This one cup of pearl barley goes a long way in this recipe.
There is minimal chopping involved here.  Just a couple of medium carrots and some garlic.  Have it ready because risotto is an attention hog and does not want you to do much of anything else while its on the stove besides stirring (and stirring and stirring).
First you toast the barley in a hot pot for a bout 5 min until it turns a few shades darker.  Then you add the oil, garlic and carrot and some salt and pepper.  You cook it for about 2 min and then add some white wine.  Cook that until it's mostly absorbed.
Then you stir in hot vegetable broth one cup at a time stirring constantly until barley is tender.  This takes about 5 or so cups of liquid and about 30 min.  While this is not difficult to do, you are pretty much a slave to the stove for that 25-30 min.  I do believe it is worth it though!
Once it's cooked through you add a little butter and a little shredded Parmesan cheese and stir in your greens until wilted.  This calls for spring mix but I think you can use what ever your garden groweth.
The finished product is so rich and creamy and delicious.  If you don't want this to be the whole meal, I'd serve it along side some grilled pork loin and a nice leafy green salad.  Click the Barley Risotto link for the recipe and article by the chef that created it, enjoy!

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