I've pretty much led a life devoid of barley since I stopped buying canned soup a million years ago. Recently I knuckled down and bought a package of pearled barley and put a bit in some "refrigerator soup" (mixed this and that...), and liked it.
Anyone have any good recipes that taste best with barley instead of, say, rice or noodles?
I just ran across this one in the Observer from Nigel Slater's column of today.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES WITH PARSLEY DUMPLINGS
I have much success cooking with pearled spelt, and now use it in many instances where I would previously have used pot barley. Spelt cooks more quickly, and is favoured by many people who find wheat difficult to digest. I eat it simply because I like its texture and flavour. If you prefer pot barley it is best soaked for 20 minutes before using. Drain it and add it at the same time as the stock. Serves 4, generously.
a thick slice of butter
2 ribs of celery
3 sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme
120g pearled spelt or pearled barley
450g Jerusalem artichokes
2 medium-sized potatoes
2 bay leaves
a tsp fennel seeds
a litre of vegetable stock
5 or 6 sprigs of parsley
for the dumplings:
2 tsp baking powder
95g fridge-cold butter
about 125ml milk
2 heaped tbsp chopped parsley
Wash the leeks thoroughly, making sure that there is no grit trapped between the leaves, then slice them into short pieces about 2cm in length. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the leeks, chopped celery and the leaves of the thyme, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper, then a lid, and leave them to soften for 10-15 minutes. They shouldn't colour. Briefly rinse the spelt or barley.
Scrub and halve or quarter the artichokes, scrub the potatoes and cut into large pieces, then add them to the leeks, celery and thyme leaves. Add the bay leaves and fennel. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the artichokes are tender to the point of a knife.
While the artichokes are cooking, make the dumplings. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Cut the butter into very small dice then rub into the flour with your fingertips as if you were making pastry. Add enough milk to bring the flour and butter to a stiff dough, then stir in the parsley and a little salt. Shape into 12 equal-sized balls.
Roughly chop the parsley sprigs and stir into the artichokes, along with the rinsed spelt and a final seasoning of salt and black pepper. Lower the dumplings on to the surface of the stew and cover with a lid. Cook for a further 25 minutes until the dumplings have puffed up and the spelt is tender.
Then there is the matter of jerusalem artichokes. I've never bought them..