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Friday 5 February 2016

Experiment - Recipe: Pearl Barley with Mushrooms & Aubergine (Vegetarian)

I tried this with and without mint and coriander as an experiment. Wow, the fresh herbs add a light and fragrant touch to the dish and balance it nicely - they make such a difference!!

I love this dish. The barley gives it bite. It’s packed with earthy goodness from the mushrooms, nuts and aubergine, and balanced with apricot, mint and coriander! A cracking flavour profile.

ingredients (serves 4)
for the pearl barley
250g pearl barley (+500ml water / veg stock)
250g chestnut mushrooms (cut into 1/4’s)
200g onion (1 large, sliced)

6 dried apricots (medium dice)
3 sprigs thyme (picked)
200ml apple juice

1 large aubergine (large dice)
couple pinches paprika salt (50/50 smoked paprika / salt)
olive oil

25g toasted sunflower & pumpkin seeds (you’ll need some butter for toasting) (link 720)
5g coriander (chopped)
5g mint (chopped)
2 spring onion (sliced into rings)
1 tbsp apple chutney (optional)

for the garnish
1 spring onion (sliced into rings)
5g chives (chopped)

Cook pearl barley 2:1 by weight - up to 3:1 if you like it softer and with residue liquid. I use a rice cooker for this. If you’re doing it in a sauce pan, use a nonstick pan, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer with a lid on the pan, cook until all the water is absorbed and the grain is soft but still has bite.

Cook each of the ingredients separately, putting them aside until needed. (I use takeaway boxes, they stack well and take up very little space when stored!)

Put the dried apricots and apple juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil then set to simmer for 10mins until they’ve softened. 
Turn off the heat and add the fresh thyme leaves, put aside to infuse until needed.

Brush the mushrooms to remove any soil, then take the stalks off, and quarter them lengthways.
Cook the mushroom stalks w/ the onions in a little oil until the onions have started to brown. Don’t forget to season them. 

Combine all the ingredients except the nuts, spring onions, chives, mint and coriander and heat up in a large pan.

Then add the nuts, spring onions, chives, mint and coriander and mix through.

to serve
Serve in a serving bowl or in the pan, dressed with the spring onion, chives and a sprig of thyme.

It’s quite nice with a poached egg and garlic bread!

If you like things spicy, add a finely chopped scotch bonnet and serve with coriander and mint greek yoghurt. (season the yoghurt with salt and lime juice) 

I had it with a pork shoulder chop done in a pimientos de padron and white wine sauce with garlic bread. That, methinks, will be another post!! : )

Or use it as the stuffing for a deboned leg of lamb!! Think I'd probably replace the mint and coriander for 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, coriander, garam masala, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. And bump up (as in double or triple) the amount of dried fruit and nuts. And add cranberries for a touch of acidity!

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