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Beans & Greens & Barley – Oh My! April 20, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff.
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Sounds pretty complicated, doesn’t it?

But doesn’t it sound healthy?  I mean, you’ve got your greens and your barley and your beans . . .

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When I went to the market last weekend, I picked up a lovely bunch of escarole – and it was a buck.

How can you pass by a bunch of escarole that’s a buck?  Especially when it’s chilly and rainy – and you see the escarole and you think “beans and greens – YUM.”

May I just take a moment to say – if you have a public market or a farmers’ market nearby, it is well worth the time to patronize that market.

At best, you’re supporting your local farmers, and at worst, you’re supporting your local entreprenuer.

Either way, the little guy wins, right?

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So I brought my escarole home and cleaned it.  While it was soaking, I asked the Internet for some ideas as to what to do with it.

I mean, sure, Beans And Greens is certainly the fallback position, but surely we can do something more . . . interesting, right?

So how about some risotto with beans & greens?

Then there’s barley risotto.  With greens and beans.

Huh.

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It’s really not all that different from risotto risotto – the technique is the same, we just used barley instead of rice.

You’ll want to heat some olive oil and sauté a diced onion and some fresh thyme – a sprig.

I love how “a sprig” can be considered a unit of measure.  How bit a sprig?  Is it a little sprig?  A whole branch of thyme?

I figure – a “medium sprig.”  How’s that?

Once the onion is softened and the thyme is, well, still thyme, we’re going to want to add a cup of pearled barley and cook, stirring pretty much constantly, for just a couple of minutes.

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Then, just like real risotto, we’ll add a bit of white wine and cook until it’s absorbed, then start adding the heated chicken stock, a ½ cup at a time.

Yes, this is going to take a while, and yes, good things take time.  You know that.

This is going to take at least half an hour – you know the drill.  Add a bit of stock, stir until it’s mostly absorbed, and add a bit more.

While the “risotto” was still somewhat soupy, we added about a cup of cooked beans – we used Roman beans this time, mainly because we had a pound of them on hand.  That, and I figured Roman beans = Italian plus escarole would work.

Sometimes, I just like to keep things simple.

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Anyway, once the cooked beans were added to the risotto and had a chance to – what, acclimate? – we stirred in about half the bunch (say 3-4 cups) of the escarole, chopped.

Let the greens wilt – it’ll take a couple of minutes.

Trust me.  We’re not done yet.

Though that doesn’t look bad at all, does it?

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But we need to finish it.  Stir in a “knob” of butter (which is just a couple of tablespoons – you know, a hunk of butter) and about ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese.

This is the point we stopped.  Once the butter was melted and the cheese incorporated, we took it off the heat and shoved it in the fridge.

While one wouldn’t normally want to reheat risotto, reheating barley is fine.

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So that’s what we did – along with some multi-grain bread and a grind or so of black pepper.

It’s so simple, but really, very good.

And since we really didn’t make any changes, I’m just going to link to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe – I’ve got nothing to add to it, really, other than my opinion that it’s well worth the (minimal) trouble.

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