Black barley is a terrific find, it is nutty and dark in flavour and cooks easily in 35 – 45 minutes. I came across it at Goodies and Grains in Adelaide Central Market while I was stocking up with a few items. It is an African barley just becoming available more locally. It is excellent in soups, salads, vegetarian “stews” (let’s call it a ragout) like this one and even with tostadas and such like. As a base for other ingredients, it is excellent – try Black Barley with this Charred Okra dish.
Today we are using it to replace pearl barley (you can do that in any recipe). Ottolenghi has a recipe for Barley and Mushrooms in his book Plenty. We first made this around 2011, when my daughter and her family came back from London. There was much celebration. Barley and mushroom is a soothing combination – it is well known in Italy where a type of risotto, orzotto, is made from barley and mushrooms. The delight of the dish is mainly a textural thing, with the barley both gently breaking and enhancing the mushroomy gloopiness. This recipe uses 3 types of mushrooms, and today we used porcini, shiitake and pearl mushrooms, as I had pearl mushrooms left over from making a Soba Noodle and Mushroom dish.
Ottolenghi’s recipe also has some roti-like flatbreads made from wholewheat flour and mixed with yoghurt. These are rolled out and cooked on a tawa, flat griddle or frying pan. They are super easy to make and go with any dish similar to this one. You can also use any Mexican or Middle Eastern flatbread to compliment the barley if you are out of time to make your own. Or some frozen roti from your Indian Grocery.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
It is a very wintery dish – perfect for brisk Autumn days through to Winter.
Browse our Black Barley recipes, all of our Barley dishes and our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his Plenty More book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
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