Saturday, June 5, 2010

trying new things

Has it really been a week and a half since my last post?  Sheesh!  Well, this should make up for it.  I love risotto, but I rarely ever make it.  There's something about standing in front of the pot, constantly stirring that is just too much work.  Especially compared to the usual dump, rinse, and push a button that is required of me when I use my most frequently used kitchen appliance: the handy dandy rice cooker.  Couldn't live without that thing.

Anyway, I found a new recipe for barley risotto, and I had to give it a try.  With completely different add-ins.  Now, I realize that risotto comes from riso, which means "rice" but apparently you can use the same technique for some other grains.  And it really worked well with pearled barley.  It turns out a little chewy, and it's really delicious.  And I thing making it with eggplant and mushrooms was a good idea.  Yum!
1 cup pearled barley
3 C vegetable or chicken stock (buy low-sodium, but it's best--and so cheap and easy--to make it yourself)
2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 T minced parsley
2 Japanese eggplant, stem and end removed, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz white button, shiitake, or cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed (removed for shiitake), and sliced
1/2 freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring stock and 2 C water to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cover, to keep warm.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat.  Toss in the eggplant, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Flip over, and cook through.  Eggplant should have a soft, creamy texture on the inside.  If it's at all spongy, it's underdone.  Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside on a plate.  Add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and let brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium.  Add onion, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add barley; cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.  Add 1/2 C stock; cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  4. Ladle in about 2 more cups of stock; cook, stirring frequently until almost completely absorbed.  About 10 minutes.  Continue to add 1 C of stock at a time, waiting for the liquid to be almost completely absorbed before adding more, until barley is tender and the mixture is creamy, 40~50 minutes.
  5. Add in sauteed eggplant and mushrooms.  Remove from heat, stir parsley and parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, garnished with more cheese.

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