Mushroom Barley Soup


Baby it’s cold outside.
We just returned home from a sunny family vacation and were greeted with snowflakes.
Not exactly the homecoming I had in mind.

Needless to say, our cupboards were pretty bare of all things fresh, so the visit to the grocery store filled the cart and this week’s menu with produce filled warmth. Planned soups, stews and stuffed pastas were top of mind.
Those first flickers of snow whipped my memories of the beach to thoughts of cold toes and hearty lunches.
Along with onions, celery and carrots, the mushrooms were on the top of the bag, so they were the first in the pot. An old favourite from a little school on Toronto Island, this I knew was sure to please.

GARTH’S MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Celery Stalk, finely diced
1 pound Mushrooms, white button or crimini, sliced
12 Cups Water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 Cup Pot Barley
3 Tablespoons Tamari

Heat oil in a large stockpot.
Add diced onions to the oil and sweat
Add the diced carrots and celery to the onion and continue to sauté until soft.
Add the sliced mushrooms, water and salt.
When boiling add and tamari.
Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook until barley is puffed and soft, at least 30 minutes
Adjust seasoning adding more tamari or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Little Bit of This; Summer Meal Salad


Something wonderful about summer and forgetting about dinner.
An abundance of fresh food everywhere, leftovers from the weekend BBQ and a handful of herbs can create a quick, satisfying and remarkable dinner.

After grilling corn and attempting a sweet chili lime glaze recipe to serve up, I had one cob left over and a recipe that still needs a bit of tweaking for my tastes. I trimmed the cob of the kernels and, since it was already a little seasoned, I had a salad in mind. Dinner also left over a roasted red pepper, which was easy enough to dice, toss in a little handful of the bolting cilantro and I had a flavour direction for something.

For our next days lunch, I still needed a bit of protein and a bit of everything in between, so I grabbed for the quinoa. It’s quick cooking, so it gave me just the right amount of time I needed to toss together a dressing. Tossed together with a couple of handfuls of my favourite baby spinach and this salad was ultra quick, summery and so tasty.

SUMMER CORN & QUINOA SALAD

1 Cob of Corn, preferably grilled, shucked
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, roasted with the skin removed
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, packed, finely chopped
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Handfuls Baby Spinach Leaves, about 2 cups

DRESSING

Juice of One Lime
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander Seeds
1/8 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Whisper of Cayenne Pepper (less than a pinch)

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad.
Skin, seed and dice the red pepper, added it to the shucked corn, in a large bowl.
Rinse, dry and finely chop the cilantro, adding it to the corn and peppers.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, and oil. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well.
Measure out 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and add it along with the baby spinach to the corn mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour over the dressing. Toss to coat, but be gentle not to overly bruise the spinach leaves.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.*
Turn out to a platter to serve.

*If going vegetarian, about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta will make the salad sing.