The continuing parade of vegetables is marching out of the kitchen and onto the dining room table! I've been at the Farmer's Market for two weeks straight and have come away with some great produce that SB is not growing in his 'bit of Earth'.
This week, it was a gorgeous head of cauliflower, some of the first I've seen around. I dug up another of the newest recipes from my latest cookbook, power foods - 150 delicious recipes .... This pearl barley with cauliflower and toasted almonds is very reminiscent of a risotto. The barley is slowly simmered to a nice 'bite'. Then, Parmesan cheese is added to the last bit of moisture and makes for a creamy finish. Cauliflower and toasted almond chunks are added and the dish is finished with a spritz of lemon juice and some freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley.
While this dish could easily be a dinner entrée, I prefer it as a side with a simple roast of meat. It went well with our garlic and thyme roasted pork tenderloin the other evening. As a meatless meal, I think I'd make a bright crunchy green salad and have some olives and pickled peppers on the side.
The only change to the recipe that I insisted on was to roast the cauliflower with olive oil and plenty of black pepper before adding it to the creamy barley. I love the peppery sweetness that comes out in cauliflower that is prepared in this way. I also added a couple teaspoons of reduced sodium vegetable stock base to the water in which I cooked the barley. The added flavor of the broth helped jazz up the blandness of the grain.
Cauliflower and Barley Salad with Toasted Almonds
an adapted recipe from power foods – 150 delicious recipes with the 38 healthiest ingredients
1 c. pearl barley3 ½ c. water
2 tsp. vegetable stock base (reduced sodium chicken broth base can be used also)
Kosher salt and black pepper
¾ c. raw whole almonds, toasted in a dry pan over medium heat
½ head cauliflower, broken to small florets
¼ c. olive oil
3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
½ lemon for squeezing over the finished dish
Making the Dish:
- Place the water and vegetable stock base in a deep heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
- Rinse and pick over the barley and add it to the pot of water, bring to a boil, stir once, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the barley gently covered partially with a titlted pan top - until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the barley has a soft ‘bite. This should take about 30 minutes or so.
- While the barley simmers, toss the cauliflower florets with a bit of the olive oil , some black pepper and Kosher salt. Place them on a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast in a hot oven (400° F) for 15 minutes. Remove the foil after the 15 minutes and turn to brown the florets all around. Roast them for another 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and set aside when the florets are browned and soft.
- Chop the parsley and set it aside
- Toast the almonds and chop them coarsely. Set them aside.
- When the barley has absorbed almost all the liquid, add the cheese and stir to incorporate into a creamy coating for the barley.
- Turn the barley into a warm dish, toss with the cauliflower, parsley, and nuts. Correct the salt and pepper seasoning. Drizzle on the olive oil and spritz with lemon juice.
- Serve immediately.