Barley with Summer Vegetables and Walnuts
Eating mostly vegetarian, I have developed many recipes using grains and legumes and often have in my fridge cooked barley, lentils, quinoa etc., ready to be incorporated into hot or cold dishes. When I cook grains or legumes, I usually cook more than required for what I am making, and sometimes cook a pot of barley just to have it in the fridge for another time. This is one such recipes. I had pre-cooked barley and added it to a lovely melange of summer vegetables contently sautéing in a little olive oil. When cooking grains you can either cook them like rice, in just enough water so it all absorbs during cooking, or you can cook the grains in abundance of water and drain the excess water when the grains are cooked through. Another secret I have to tell you is regrading cooking corn in the microwave. I steam the cobs in a little water, covered with a paper towel, for 12-15 minutes and get perfectly cooked corn every time without the mess of boiling it in a pot on top of the stove. This easy to prepare dish is lovely and flavourful and was appreciated by my vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests alike. Not everyone knew it was barley though (I told them).
1 cup uncooked barley or 3-4 cups cooked
4 cups water or more
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow summer squash
1 green summer squash
2 corn cobs, cooked, corn kernels removed
1 cup cauliflower florets, cut into small florets
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
To cook the barley: rinse it under cold running water and then place in a 2 quart pot with water to cover by 2″ (or use 1:4 ratio barley to water). Bring water to a boil, lower heat to a steady simmer, partially cover the pot and let cook until barley is chewy-tender but not mushy. If needed, add water during the cooking. When barley is done (taste it), drain off the excess water, rinse under cold water, drain and spread in a wide dish to allow it to dry a little. Grains should be separated and chewy. You can keep the barley in the fridge for a few days or use immediately.
To cook the corn: remove husks from the corn cobs, place in a shallow dish with 1/2 cup water, cover with paper towel and microwave 12-15 minutes. This should cook the corn perfectly. Remove the kernels off the cob by standing it in a bowl on the wide end and scraping the kernels off with a sharp knife. Be careful as the corn can slip. It’s a little messy but worth it. If you use a deep bowl it will catch any juices squirting around.
Chop the summer squash in to medium dice.
Separate the cauliflower into small florets.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot add the garlic and sautée a minute, just until the garlic is fragrant but be careful not to burn it.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook until they are soft and golden yet retain some crispness. Towards the end of the cooking add the corn and barley, a cup at a time until you reach a pleasant balance of barley to vegetables. You don’t have to use all the barley. Continue cooking until everything is combined and heated through.
Add salt, pepper and half the parsley and the walnuts.
Remove from heat, spoon into a serving dish and garnish with remaining parsley and walnuts.
Serve warm or at room temperature. This keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat before serving.