Barley Risotto


Returning with something super simple but so delicious.
When first sampling plant-based, I found it easier sticking to familiar things that were already in the pantry. While on the search for various grains to keep things interesting,
I remembered barley.

My mom used to use it in many of her soups when I was a kid. This, of course, makes it an easy favourite for me. It’s hearty and slightly chewy. It’s soft, warm and filling, making it a perfect, but overlooked addition to so many dishes in the winter.

Treating it like a risotto, is a great way to flavour the barley. And in this case keeping it open to so many different flavour variations. It’s no secret that I love spinach, so pair that with some sautéed mushrooms and even a pan fried tofu and this becomes a perfectly satisfying, affordable and easy winter weekday dinner.

BARLEY RISOTTO

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Shallots, minced
1 Cup Pearl Barley
3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
Sprig Thyme, stem removed
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, adding the minced shallots to sweat.
Add the barley stirring well to coat with oil and lightly toast.
Cover with all of this liquid at once. Once the mixture begins to lightly simmer, stir and reduce the heat to maintain.
Add thyme leaves.
Stir occasionally until broth is mostly absorbed and barley is tender. (If more liquid is needed add 1/2 cup water.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Spinach & Mushroom Topping

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic and mushrooms.
Sauté over a medium high heat until mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the spinach, turning regularly to wilt.
Serve hot over top of prepared barley.

Serves 2

A Sucker for Babies.


Spring means babies and like the title states, I’m the sucker. I see, little, fresh veggies and new and I have to cook them up – in magnitude…

I couldn’t resist, when last time at the market I spotted these miniature marvels.
Love ’em or not, these adorable eggplants were destined for my grocery bag.

I’m sure that eggplants are much more popular in other areas other than my own dining room, but I serve them up anyway, eggplant caviar, parmigiana, grilled or stuffed like these, they are relatively simple to prepare and dazzling on a plate on their own or shrunken to side dish.

STUFFED BABY EGGPLANT

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling over eggplants
1 Leek, white & light green parts, finely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 28 oz can Puréed Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 – 1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock, amount will depend on cooking temp and absorption
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
5-6 Fresh Basil Leave, finely chopped
6 Baby Eggplants, halved

Heat the oven to 350ºF.
Half the eggplants lengthwise and score into cubes, without puncturing the skins.
Lightly drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender-firm so the skins are intact but the flesh may be removed, flip the eggplants over cut side down half way through.
Meanwhile, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep sauté pan. Add the finely chopped leek and sauté until it’s translucent.
Add the minced garlic and the rice; stirring well.
Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by 1/3.
Add half of the tomato purée and 1 cup of stock, bringing everything to a simmer and stir frequently.
Carefully scoop the flesh from the roasted eggplants, trying not to puncture the skin, to create a cavity. (It’s o.k if you don’t get every last bit.)
Reserve the skins on a baking sheet for stuffing.
When the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining tomato purée .
Roughly chop the removed eggplant and add to the rice.
Once the rice is tender, add the salt and pepper to taste.
Finely chop the basil and add, reserving a small amount for garnish.
Stir well, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary then spoon the filling into the skins.
If you choose, top with a soy mozzarella or if you can use it a nice smoky gouda.
Return the eggplants to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes to heat through and melt the cheese.

There will be some filling left over. This recipe will easily accommodate a large eggplant in lieu of the babies, just extend the roasting time of the larger eggplant.

Pumpkin Mushroom & Leek Risotto


With autumn here it’s not to tough to find the cooler weather ingredients. As the farmer’s markets begin the preparation of shutting down for the winter, the fall finds and harvest colours are still filling the tables.

Since Jack-o-Lanterns aren’t very good for eating, I used the Jarrahdale pumpkin left from my day at the patch. Although I didn’t have to worry about the abundance of carving pumpkins flooding the market, I figure a butternut squash may also do in a pinch.

With winds blustering and my grocery bag full, I was set for anything including a challenge.
Upon making my dinner, I was quite excited to read of A Slice of Cherry Pie’s call for my same three ingredients. It seems that shopping locally and celebrating of seasonal food isn’t all that uncommon, so if you too found these great ingredients at your local market, you can check out her round up for this and other great recipes using these wonderful autumn finds.


Continue reading Pumpkin Mushroom & Leek Risotto