Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemon

We are all working to stay happy, healthy and somewhat sane during this time. It is the middle of the coronavirus pandemic as I write this draft. We are social-distancing, a new word, and we s-d even in our own homes. It is a scary time that is changing the world in many large and small ways. Oh, so many countries have been devastated with so many deaths, my heart is broken for you. Who knows what is to come ….

As it happens, I happen to have a couple of flat mushrooms in the fridge, barley in the pantry and feta from the Afghan shop. There is parsley and thyme in the garden, so this seems to be the perfect use for the mushrooms. I also have wine! It is a rare occurrence, but is perfect for this dish. The mushrooms are slowly braised in the oven in wine, stock, butter and thyme, to become achingly soft, fragrant and highly flavoursome. The stuffing is barley, feta, preserved lemon, garlic and herbs. It is an unusual stuffing for mushrooms, but one that is divine and perfect against the soft ‘shrooms. They mended my heart a little, just for a moment.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Ottolenghi. I serendipitously came across it while browsing last evening. We are always free to massage his recipes into a shape that fits what we have at hand, but this time it needed little alteration. I toyed with the idea of using goat cheese for feta, and it would have worked, but used feta instead. I did chop up the mushroom stems and add them to the barley as it cooked. No waste, no want, always my mantra. This recipe doesn’t appear to be on the Guardian website, so you will have to check his books for the original.

Similar recipes include Toasted Barley and Pistachio Pilaf, Sweet Barley and Ginger Poached Rhubarb, Roasted Mushrooms with Burrata, Pan Fried Mushrooms in Butter, Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic, Black Barley with Mushrooms, and Mushrooms in Terracotta.

Browse all of our Mushroom dishes and all of our Barley recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Barley and Lentils with Mushrooms and Fried Onion

You couldn’t get a more Wintery dish than this. Barley and Brown Lentils with Mushrooms and Crispy Fried Onions. And today is quite warm! What am I thinking? Haha, still, it is great comfort food.

For this dish I have used horse gram lentils, a favourite lentil from India, but you can use any brown or dark lentil. The recipe, one of Ottolenghi’s, specifies pot barley and you should use that if it is available. Here it has gone out of fashion in recent times and I could not find any for love or money.  So I used pearl barley – almost as good in my opinion. Pot barley is the love of the UK, where it is readily available.

As mentioned, this is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. Note that we always feel free to use whatever is in our garden, pantry, fridge or kitchen bench in his dishes. For this one, the barley is the only substitute we have made. However if you wish to see his original recipe check his books or his Guardian column.

What is Pot Barley

Whole (as opposed to rolled or ground) barley comes three ways: as a whole grain, as pot barley or as pearl barley. The difference between them is the degree to which their tough outer shell has been removed. Pot, or Scotch, barley has its outer casing hulled. Pearl barley also has it removed, and is then polished clean. The hull is left on for whole grain, which gives it an inherent nuttiness and bite that allows it to stand more alone in a dish.

Pot barley takes longer to cook than pearl, but an overnight soak in water will speed things along. It’s a robust grain that, if overcooked, won’t collapse but will become more tender. It’s wonderfully versatile, too: try it instead of pasta, rice, couscous or bulgur wheat next time you reach for those cupboard staples.

This dish is very versatile – have it with a green salad in Summer or some roast veg in Winter.  I am be happy to have this by itself as a light lunch or supper.

Similar recipes include Pan Fried Mushrooms in Butter, Barley, Millet and Mung Congee, Toasted Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, and Butternut with Roasted Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic.

Browse all of our Barley dishes and all of our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Barley and Lentils with Mushrooms and Fried Onion”

Black Barley and Purslane Salad

Black Barley with its inky taste makes beautiful salads, like this one I made from pantry and garden ingredients during the COVID-19 lockdown (2020). Black Barley mixed with some home-made peach chutney, soft oven dried tomatoes, purslane from the garden, and garden herbs. A little olive oil and the tiniest bit of something acid (taste first as purslane is a little sour) – lemon or lime, preserved lemon, or rice vinegar. You might not have peach chutney ;), but you can substitute with something sweet-tart like barberries or dried cranberries, or use sweet – raisins for example – with a little more acid in the dressing.

Similar recipes include How to Use Purslane in Salads, Warm Barley and Cannellini Beans Salad with Charred BroccoliniGhol Takatli Bhaji, and Quinoa and Purslane Salad.

Browse all of our Black Barley recipes, and our Purslane dishes too.

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Black Barley with Mushrooms and Roti-Style Yoghurt Flatbreads

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 our recipe today, 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.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice, Charred Okra with Barley, Barley and Porcini Risotto, and Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms.

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. Continue reading “Black Barley with Mushrooms and Roti-Style Yoghurt Flatbreads”

Black Barley

Black Barley is a heirloom grain, and has remained unchanged, farmed for generations in small batches and prized for its flavour, colour and nutritional value. Originating in Ethiopia (but now also grown in several countries), black barley is the only grain that can go from field to fork without being processed. That is because the bran layer stays attached to the kernel and is completely edible. With its bran intact, black barley retains its firm, plump texture during cooking, and has a deep, vibrant and nutty taste. As a 100% wholegrain, black barley is rich in nutritional value, particularly high in fibre, and also packed with vitamins B & E, calcium, iron and potassium.

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Charred Okra with Spiced Tomato Barley

This is an African influenced dish of barley and okra. We have made it with both pearl barley and black barley, which is cooked with tomatoes, and then charred okra is added. A warming, Wintery dish.

This is usually made with black barley, and is a very common dish. If black barley is not available, pearl barley or even pot barley are good substitutes (check the different cooking instructions for pot barley). Note that the barely is so very good, it can be cooked on its own, or topped with other vegetables, for example, charred or roasted cauliflower.

Are you looking for other Barley dishes? Try Black Barley with Mushrooms, Pearl Barley and Porcini “Risotto”, Parsley and Barley Salad with Feta, Barley with Red Kidney Beans, and Adzuki, Barley and Pumpkin Soup.

Or other Okra recipes? Try Slightly Charred Okra with Chilli, Garlic and ThymeWarm Salad of Charred Okra, Whole Okra Stuffed with Onions, and Sri Lankan Okra Curry.

Browse all of our Okra dishes and all of our Barley dishes. Our African dishes are here. Or simply explore our Mid Winter recipes.

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