Pearl barley is a fabulous thing - incredibly chewy and nutty, yet soft enough to release enough starch to make a wonderfully creamy risotto without any cream! Plus it doesn't ask for much stirring - unlike arborio which warrants a lot more special treatment :) Don't get me wrong, I love arborio - in risotto, paella, even an arborio salad ... but sometimes, I don't feel like dealing with the work involved in cooking arborio! And at such times, barley provides the perfect, wonderfully nutritious alternative.
Random barley stats I just learned:
- Barley is among the oldest crops in the world, and was used in ancient Egypt for making bread and beer - beer is that old?!!
- Half of the world's barley production is used as animal feed!
- More than 75% of the remainder is used in beer and whiskey production :)
2 cups of pearled barley - rinsed
1 T Earth Balance whipped spread
5-6 baby leeks - chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 cauliflower - separated into medium florettes
2/3 cup of red wine
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t dried thyme
Heat the broth in a pot till it boils and then reduce it to a simmer.
Heat the spread in a saucepan and add the chopped leeks.
Once the leeks are lightly sauteed, add the barley and saute it for about 2-3 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir till fully absorbed (takes a couple of minutes).
Now add the remaining broth along with 3 cups of water to the saucepan.
Stir lightly and cook covered on low for about 40-45 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the oven to 350 F for cooking the cauliflower.
Toss the cauliflower into a baking dish along with the red pepper flakes and thyme.
Add the red wine and mix.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes and then covered for another 5 minutes.
While waiting for the barley to cook, prepare the parsley pistou:
2 T chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 t cayenne pepper
In a pestle, grind all of these ingredients till well-blended.
Once the barley and cauliflower are cooked, toss them together.
Swirl in the pistou just before serving.
You could even top with some marinated bell peppers if you feel like it!
Yes, very! The caulifower+vino was awesome! I was a little leery about it and was wondering if I should've used white wine or sherry, but this turned out great - am definitely using this again in other recipes. And the parsley pistou was the perfect topping - it added a wonderful zing as well as aroma to the risotto.
Damn, I was hoping to send this to Suganya for Vegan Ventures, but just realized that I didn't end up using vegan wine! Yoikes! Balls to the wall here (apparently that odd phrase has no shady connotations :)) , got to make something vegan tomorrow before this awesome event ends!