Because I'll be spending much of today packing, but still wanted to get something really nice in for Hrafnar Yule, and I wanted a good vegetarian entrée for the delectable purplevenus, this is what I've come up with. In the medieval fashion, I like it when sweet and savory are cozy with each other, as they are here.
If you can't find purple barley, you can substitute ordinary hulled (but not pearl) barley, or other whole cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, or brown rice.
Non-Boring, Non-Bland Barley
|5||c||low sodium vegetable broth (as 4 c + 1 c)|
|1||oz||dried porcini mushrooms|
|1/2||c||(1 stick) unsalted butter|
|1||lb||Purple Prairie Barley|
|2||md||red onions, diced to 1/2" cubes|
|3||cloves||garlic, minced or pressed|
|salt and fresh-ground pepper|
|1/2||t||each of thyme, savory, and sage|
|3||freshly ground allspice berries|
|1/2-1||c||slivered almonds or other nuts (optional)|
|1/2-1||c||dried fruit (raisins, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc) (optional)|
Bring the broth to a boil, and add the dried mushrooms. Once they have rehydrated, cut into bite-sized pieces, if necessary.
While the mushrooms are rehydrating, melt the butter in a generously sized Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, bubbled, and is just beginning to brown, add the barley and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to "pop" and smells slightly toasted. Add the onion and a generous punch of salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened and begun to grow translucent, another five minutes.
Stir in the garlic and herbs (but not the bay leaves), stirring constantly until fragrant.
Add about a cup of the broth, and scrape to remove anything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining broth (with mushrooms) and the bay leaves.
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until barley is cooked, about 45 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with dried fruit and nuts.