Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Barley risotto with corn, asparagus, leeks and basil

Barley has a lovely chewy texture which both my daughter and me love. And barley has amazing nutritional properties which I only discovered recently. Rich in fiber, protein and iron it is a healthy and delicious alternative to arborio rice. This risotto celebrates spring with the addition of fresh corn, asparagus and basil. A small quantity of goat cheese is added at the end for a luscious creamy finish.

Barley risotto with corn, asparagus, leeks and basil
3/4th cup organic pearl barley
1 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 cup asparagus chopped into one inch pieces
1 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper
2 oz soft goat cheese
3 tablespoon finely julienned fresh basil leaves

  1. Soak the barley for 2 hours at room temperature. This will ensure it cooks in 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a 3 quart dutch oven with 1 tablespoon butter at medium heat. When the butter melts, add the chopped leeks and the minced garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes with a pinch of salt till the leeks begin to soften. Drain the barley and add to the leek mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes till the leeks have softened completely.
  3. While the leeks are cooking, keep a stock pot with warm stock to be added to the barley while cooking.
  4. Once the leeks are softened add a few ladles of the stock till the stock covers the barley. Stir often and continue to cook till the liquid dries up. Add some more stock and do the same until the barley is almost cooked - about 10 minutes. Now add the asparagus and another round of stock and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally add the fresh corn kernels and cook till the asparagus is done but crisp. 
  5. Taste for seasoning and add the salt and pepper accordingly. This will depend on the salt content of the stock that you are using. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the goat cheese and basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Serves 3 as a main course

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lentil and Arborio rice soup

This is a great soup to make when you don't really have any fresh vegetables and need to work with pantry staples. French green lentils do not require to be soaked in advance - hence making them a perfect lentil for last minute cooking. I used the farmers market yellow carrot - hence you see the yellow pieces - it is not a bad camera! I also used Arborio rice since I like the short grain starchy rice for my soups.

French green lentils and Arborio rice soup

1/4 cup French green lentils rinsed and drained
1/4 cup Arborio rice
1 large carrot
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic peeled and minced
1 cup chopped tomato (skin removed)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a 3 quart stock pot or dutch oven with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute over medium heat with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes till the onions have softened.
  2. Add the carrot, lentils and rice and saute for another 3 to 5 minutes till the rice and lentils are well coated with the onion mixture.
  3. Now add the chopped tomato and the thyme leaves and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes till the rice and lentils are cooked. Check for seasoning and add the salt and pepper as per your taste.
Serve with warm bread and a salad - makes a lovely lunch or supper.

Serves 3