Thursday, June 21, 2007

Risotto-Style Barley with Winter Citrus and Arugula

It wasn't until I was about done with this risotto that I noticed the "winter" part of the title. O well. It was 10 degrees cooler today - does that count?? :)

This is my first go with barley. Sure, I've had it in super-fiber cereals, and I've had it in restaurants (I think), but I've never actually made it myself. I really dig the meaty chewiness of the grain. I can see myself really getting into more barley-ish recipes.

I can also see why this is a winter meal. Sure, it takes 45 minutes of stirring over a hot stove. But its also warm and earthy, and the dose of citrus really reminds me of Christmas. (I blame the potpourri.) I think it would be tasty with craisins mixed in, too. Hmm. I'll def. save this for fall. I won't hold it against you if you don't try it out, its just too hot out - unless you're in the southern hemisphere, of course... and if you are... then... I did this on purpose!!! :)

Risotto-Style Barley with Winter Citrus and Arugula
From Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 shallots, chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups lightly pearled barley
1 cup good-quality dry white wine
6 cups water
1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
2 big handfuls arugula, coarsely chopped
Handful of chopped toasted walnuts, for garnish

Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion, shallots, garlic, and salt and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

Add the barley to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed the liquid a bit. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, active simmer.

In increments, add about 6 cups of water, 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between additions; this should take around 40 minutes altogether. Stir regularly, because you don’t want the grains on the bottom of the pan to scorch. You will know when the barley is cooked because it won’t offer up much resistance when chewing (it will, however, be chewier than Arborio rice.) I think this risotto is better on the brothy side, so don’t worry if there is a bit of unabsorbed liquid in the pot.

Meanwhile, grate the zest of the orange, then peel and segment the orange. Cut the segments in half, reserving any juices that leak out. When the barley is tender, stir in the orange zest, segments and juice, lemon zest, Parmesan, and crème fraiche. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be, then stir in the arugula. Garnish with the toasted walnuts before serving.

Easily serves 4 to 6.

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