Tag Archives: barley

Farro “Risotto” with Broad Beans, Wild Asparagus and Poached Egg

18 Jan

Farro Risotto with Poached Egg

Farro is barley from spelt rather than wheat. This is whole Farro (or spelt).  You can also buy it pearled or semi-pearled apparently but I haven’t found it here yet. Pearling removes some of the outer husks, this means it cooks more quickly but you will also be missing out on some of the fibrey wholeness.

Farro

I bought half a kilo of broad beans at the market this weekend because they screamed “Spring” at me from behind a pile of cabbages and cauliflowers. I love cabbage and cauliflower but it’s nice when new things start to appear.

Broad Beans

I also bought a bunch of wild asparagus, trigueros in Spanish. It is a very fine type of asparagus that grows wild in fields and at the side of the road underneath spiky bushes (very clever). There are sometimes rather scruffy looking men selling big bunches of it at roundabouts at this time of year.  They are probably so scruffy because they have been scrabbling around underneath spiky bushes looking for the asparagus. They are the epitome of “being dragged through a hedge backwards.”

Farro Asparagus Risotto

Revueltos de Esparragos Trigurerosis a classic Spanish dish where the wild asparagus is sautéed in pan until just tender then you add some beaten eggs and cook it all together. Scrambled eggs with asparagus basically. This is what inspired me to top this risotto with a poached egg. It’s lovely because if your egg is perfectly runny when you stick your knife in it the yolk runs into the risotto giving it a rich creaminess that works really well in this dish.

 The flavour or the trigueros is slightly more bitter than the thicker asparagus and you still have to trim off quite a lot of the woody ends or the twiggy bits get stuck in your teeth I found, not attractive.

Broad Bean Farro Risotto

I cooked the farro using the risotto method, adding a ladleful of warm stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on. It took a long time to cook, about 40 minutes in total I think. If you are using whole spelt/farro like me then I would probably suggest that you cook it according to the instructions on the packet (mine didn’t have any). Cooking it normally, in water or stock, will probably shorten the cooking time, you still want it to be nutty and have some bite so don’t overdo it.

You can then add your broad beans, asparagus etc at the end of cooking and heat it all up together. If you are using normal asparagus you will need to blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes before adding it to the risotto at the end.

Farro Risotto with Asparagus

Farro Risotto with Broad Beans, Asparagus & Poached Egg

Serves 3, vegetarian

  • 300 g Farro (spelt barley) I used whole but pearled or semi-pearled cook quicker
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 30 g ( a handful) of grated manchego/parmesan, plus shaved to garnish
  • 500 g broad beans still in their pod chambers (as in the picture above)
  • 1 bunch of wild (or not) asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
  • 100 g frozen peas, left to defrost
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • about 15 basil leaves
  • toasted pine nuts
  • 1 egg per person
  • white vinegar

Remove the broad beans from their chambers, then put them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, rinse under the cold tap, then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale jade cases. Discard the cases. If using normal asparagus cook this in boiling, salted  water for about 3 minutes until just tender, drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes.

At this point you can either:

1) Add in the uncooked farro, stirring to coat for a minute. Heat the veg stock in a small pan until hot but not boiling. Add two ladles of the hot stock to the farro and cook until absorbed then add another two ladles of stock, repeating until the farro is tender but still with a nutty bite. If you need more liquid add some boiling water from the kettle. Season with salt & black pepper.

Or…

2) Add the uncooked farro and the veg stock, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the farro is cooked, tender but still with a nutty bite. Season with salt & black pepper.

Then, when ready to serve stir the peas, broad beans and chopped asparagus into the farro stirring to heat through for a few minutes until cooked. Then stir in the cheese and most of the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning

For the poached eggs:

Meanwhile, using a pan big enough to hold all the eggs, fill it 2/3 full with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into separate teacups or ramekins.

When the water is boiling, squeeze in about a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir it with a wooden spoon very fast to create a little whirlpool then, quickly but gently, slide the eggs into the water, one at a time. Put on a lid and leave for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.

When the white is cooked, carefully lift the eggs out, one at a time with a slotted spoon onto a double sheet of kitchen paper to drain, cover the tops with another sheet of kitchen paper.

Serve the farro “risotto” in warmed bowls and carefully use the paper and spoon to move the poached egg on top of the farro. Season the egg with a little salt & black pepper and garnish the dish with some shaved manchego/parmesan, the rest of the herbs and the toasted pine nuts.

Farro Risotto with a Poached Egg

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!!

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Moroccan Butternut Squash and Barley “Tagine”

19 Dec
 

 

 

This my version of a Moroccan Vegetable Tagine which would generally be served with couscous not barley but barley gives me a Winter warmer feeling and couscous reminds me of Summer for some reason. Tagine is the name of the dish that the casserole or stew is cooked in. Usually earthenware/terracotta with a conical lid to let the steam circulate while the dish cooks.

I don’t have a Tagine which is unbelievable since the restaurant we owned here was decorated in a Moroccan style and I went to Tangiers with my dad to buy the lights, lanterns, fabrics and ashtrays.  That was a long day, we left the house at about 5.30 am to drive down the coast to Algeciras to catch the ferry to Tangiers. When we finally arrived at the port of Tangier and disembarked we were surrounded by about 30 guides all offering their services. They wouldn’t take no for an answer so we ended up being escorted through the souk to a shop owned by the guide’s cousin.

It really would be a shopper’s paradise if you were left alone to browse through the beautiful lanterns, slippers and fabrics, but no, out come the kelims, hundreds of them, hand-woven in silk by virgins in the mountains. They are beautiful but we were on a very tight budget given to us by the Washer Up and were under strict instructions not to deviate and we didn’t need any rugs!! My dad doesn’t “do” budgets and can’t resist beautiful things so I had my work cut out. We also had the shop owner plying us with mint tea and pastries, which gave me a huge sugar rush, I had to take control so I told them all to leave us alone or we wouldn’t by anything… It worked!

We ended up buying everything we needed in budget and surprisingly didn’t miss the last boat home. Probably because it sat in the port not moving for 2 hours while we were waiting for it to leave! This meant that we didn’t get home until 1am the next day. A successful trip but not one to be repeated in a hurry.

The ashtrays we bought for the tables were mini decorated tagines which were really popular and were always being stolen or people wanted to buy them. I think this probably explains why I don’t own a Tagine, I spent nearly 10 years emptying & cleaning them so I would be quite happy never to see one ever again….

This recipe is very flexible you can use whatever vegetables & beans you have in the house. The red beans could be replaced with chickpeas, the squash replaced with sweet potato, the possibilities are endless…

 

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Barley “Tagine”

 

serves 4 Vegetarian
 
 

 

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek washed & sliced
  • 1 kilo squash or pumpkin, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  •  1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced (reserve some leaves for garnish)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree not paste)
  •  7 or 8 dates, stoned & chopped
  •  200 gr cooked red beans(about 1/2 a jar/tin) drained and rinsed
  • 100 gr barley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  •  1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any chilli paste or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 /4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ras-al Hanout (a Moroccan spice mix) optional
  • 1 tsp sumac (a crushed dried berry which has a smokey lemony flavour) optional
  • 750 ml veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1 mandarin
  • toasted almonds chopped
  • a handful of mint, coriander & parsley chopped and the reserved celery leaves
  • some feta crumbled or greek yoghurt

 

 

 

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion, celery, leek & carrots with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic cook for another minute and start adding the spices. You can moisten the pan with some lemon juice if its drying out. Add the chopped tomatoes & tomato puree, cook for 2 a minute then add the squash cubes and dates. Stir the squash to coat it in the tomatoey spices then add the veg stock and season generously with salt & black pepper. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low and cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes add the barley, stir to combine, replace the lid and cook for a further 10 – 12 minutes. By this time the squash and the barley should be cooked, if not give it a bit longer. Stir in the mandarin juice and the beans and give it a couple of minutes more. Taste for seasoning.

Serve garnished with the chopped almonds, crumbled feta (or yoghurt)  and the fresh herbs……
 

This is one of the those dishes I will cook again and again it is so flavourful and comforting and the colours are beautiful as well.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 

Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

30 Nov

Mulligatawny soup is one of those old-fashioned dishes that sounds quite exotic, but you don’t really know what it is.  Mulligatawny means “pepper broth” in Tamil. It became popular with the British stationed in India during colonial times and when they returned home they brought the recipe back home with them.

This Anglo-Indian curried soup has many variations using different vegetables & spices and it is often thickened with rice. Freshly ground toasted spices are used to give it a distinctive warming flavour and aroma.

A spicy soup is just the thing at this time of year when you come home from a very long walk. Today we walked all the way down into the Barranco Blanco valley. At the bottom of this beautiful valley they started to build another golf resort/hotel and then stopped when they didn’t get permission. So not only is it a blot on the landscape, it is also abandoned & unfinished.

This is the view from the top, yes we walked all the way down & then back up again! The lake is in the grounds of a beautiful house and you can see on the left the unfinished hotel/resort. It would almost be better for them to finish it rather than just leave it like that, but if its built illegally then no one will touch it and the money just isn’t here anymore.

This is another beautiful property we saw on the way back up. I think that might just be the garage…I’ll just live there if you don’t mind, great view!!

The rumour goes that this “Hidden Valley” is where Franco hid a lot of Hitler’s generals after the war. Might explain the enormous houses and this eerie looking watchtower…

Anyway back to the soup. The recipe I had added cooked rice to the soup at the end. I decided to throw in some barley to cook in the soup towards the end of cooking as I didn’t have any cooked rice and my dad always used to put barley in his soups when I was young. Maybe I went a bit mad with the barley because it turned out like a spicy barley risotto rather than a soup, but it was all the better for it. It has all the ribsticking goodness of a risotto but no stirring! The freshly ground spices really make a difference to the flavour of the dish, don’t miss this part out if you can help it…You can use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, that’s what I did.

Mulligatawny Barley Risotto

adapted from a Delia Smith recipe

serves 4 vegetarian

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette 1 cm diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower in florets
  • 1 medium potato, 1cm cubed (or some halved baby new potatoes)
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 25 gr butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large cardamom pod (seeds only)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 litre veg stock (or more if you want it soupy)
  • 125 gr barley
  • salt & black pepper
  • fresh coriander chopped

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan then add the onions and cook over a medium heat until they are a golden brown colour (About 10 minutes). Now put the cardamom, cumin, fennel & coriander seeds in a small pan with the chilli flakes and dry fry them over a medium heat for about 2 or 3 minutes until they start to splutter & jump. Tip them into a mortar & pestle and crush them finely. (You can also crush them with the end of a rolling-pin in a small cup). Add the spices to the onions, stir to combine then add the vegetables. Season generously with salt & black pepper, cook for 1 minute then add the veg stock and the barley. Put the lid on and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

You can serve it like this with some fresh coriander stirred through or for a smoother, thicker consistency ladle out just under half of the soup into a large bowl and blend it carefully (hot soup!) until smooth. Add this puree back into the soup, stir in the coriander and reheat gently. Add more stock to thin it out if you want to. Taste for seasoning and serve in warmed bowls with Anglo crusty bread or Indian parathas.

This really is a delicious soup dish, just perfect for those cold winter nights when you are chilled to the bone and miserable. The comforting warmth of the barley mixed with the aromatic spices is a heavenly combination.

This is one of those old-fashioned recipes that should not be forgotten. If this is where the British love affair with Indian cuisine started then I, for one, am really grateful. I’m bringing Mulligatawny back, you should try it too….

Don’t forget to check out the fantastic November Round -Up of YBR (Your Best Recipe) hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. Click on the badge below to see an amazing variety of delicious dishes with beautiful photos. A real feast for the senses…

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