Friday, June 6, 2008

Barley Chevre Pilaf With Basil And Tomatoes

Barley. Organically grown, hull-less, red winter barley. Grown about 12 miles from my kitchen, it cooks up into sturdy, fat, chewy (not gooey), delicious kernels of high-fiber goodness. I'm very excited about this. Due to the "gooey" factor, I'd not been overly fond of barley in the past. But that's all changed. These nutty, brown grains are highly addictive and I admit to being hooked. And then, of course, there's the fact that whole grains are really good for you and barley is a noted World's Healthiest Food.
So here is my barley offering, the first of many, made sometime during the past month when I was on hiatus. Do give yourself plenty of time to soak the grains before beginning the recipe.

Barley Chevre Pilaf with Basil and Tomatoes
Christine's original recipe

1 cup uncooked hull-less, winter barley (preferrably organically grown)
water for soaking
2 1/2 cups water for cooking
2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
1 tablespoon golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil (green and purple)
2 ounces good chevre
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
Campari tomatoes

Put the uncooked barley into a large metal pot and cover with cold water. Give it a stir and skim off any hulls that float to the top. (It's called hull-less, but there will be a few strays that managed to stick around.)
Let the barley soak for about 8 hours then rinse well.
Return barley to the rinsed pot, cover with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil on high heat.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the water has been absorbed and the barley is just tender and chewy, about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir to separate the grains and pour into a ceramic bowl or casserole dish.
While the grains are still warm, gently stir in the oil, vinegar, herbs and cheese. Adjust the seasonings with the fresh lemon juice and some freshly ground black pepper.
To serve: On a serving plate, make a ring of sliced tomatoes, slightly overlapping each other, leaving a space in the center of the plate. Mound the pilaf in the center of the plate and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Cook's Notes:
My friend Simona wrote an article about our local organic grain farmer, Kevin, and his grain CSA, which you can read here.
Pilafs I have known generally have more vegetables in them. I would encourage you to add vegetables of your choosing to this recipe, at will. As I will.

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