Barley Pilaf, Mushrooms and Aged Gouda
by Priscilla Martel
Make this Big Batch of seasoned barley and use it for any number of finished dishes. It’s a goes-with-everything preparation method I use whenever cooking whole grains. Once on hand, the cooked barley sneaks into green salads and soups. The finished dish here is an accompaniment to braised greens and a piece of grilled fish, meat or vegetables. Or the kind of satisfying lunch called for on a chilly day.
Yield: 8 servings, ¾ cup each
For the Big Batch of Barley:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic, 2 cloves
1 cup thinly sliced leeks from the white part, approximately one fat leek
1 cup fine diced carrot, approximately 1 fat carrot
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups pearl barley
4 cups vegetable stock or water
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme or pinch dry thyme
For the Sautéed Mushrooms and Wine:
1 Tablespoon oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
One 3.5 ounce box shiitake mushrooms, stems removed sliced thinly
One 8 ounce box cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 Tablespoons red vermouth or red wine
3 handfuls of fresh spinach, stems removed
Aged Gouda or parmesan cheese, as needed
- Heat the oil over medium heat until sizzling. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds to release some of its aroma without burning.
- Add the leeks and carrots. Raise the heat just enough to help evaporate any moisture that clings to them. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown lightly. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Add the barley and cook for a minute then add 4 cups of stock and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is evaporated and the barley is chewy tender.
- Prepare the mushrooms while the barley cooks. Heat the oil and a Tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat until it sizzles. Add the mushrooms, stir and let cook until they release their juices then start to brown, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the red vermouth and cook until reduced. Then stir in the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, toss the spinach into the hot barley, reheating it if necessary. Stir until it wilts. Season the barley liberally with salt and pepper.
- Reheat the mushrooms if necessary. Serve each portion of barley with a few spoonfuls of the mushrooms. Shave aged Gouda cheese over the dish.