For some reason, I'm not a big jewelry person. Those classic "grape" style gold earrings that used to be popular always make me think of grapes, and not how wonderful gold is. Diamonds make me think of ice, which makes me think about how great vodka is. Pearls make me think of pearled barley and reminds me that I should be eating more of it. Yup, I'm pretty easy to shop for. Silver actually makes me think of werewolves and the silver bullets that folklore says will kill them....but that's not relevant right now, is it? Anyway, my point is that barley has been my go-to grain recently, and has been a good stand-in for rice on the regular occasion when I'm sick of it. Pearled barley is barley that has been processed and "polished" to remove the bran and hull.
I really only ever used to eat barley in soup (see my Plantain Soup post if you don't believe me ), but have been experimenting with other possible uses. Hence this Walnut, Cauliflower & Basil Barley recipe. Because barley is so bland, any flavor works pretty well with it. Also, this recipe is simple enough and you can prepare some of the ingredients the day before if you want. If not, the actual prep isn't bad either - you can roast your cauliflower and walnuts while the barley is cooking. I also like that there is so much going on in this that every bite is interesting.
The aroma of the finished dish reminds me of pizza. It makes sense - basil, tomatoes & cheese - but of course this is much healthier for you. And unlike pizza, it will fill you up without making you feel bloated or sick or dying to sleep in a nice cold room immediately after. That happens to you when you eat pizza as well, right? Or am I just eating it wrong?
1 medium Onion, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 medium Tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup Walnuts
1 cup dried Barley
2 cups Cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse barley. Pour 3 cups water to a saute pan (a pan with high "walls" and add barley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and let cook for 10-15 minutes, until barley is soft & chewy. Drain and place in bowl.
While barley is cooking, place cauliflower & walnuts on two separate trays lined with foil. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Remove tray, reduce heat to 350 and toast walnuts for 5-8 minutes, checking to ensure it does not burn. Remove & cool.
Warm 2 tbsp olive oil in the same skillet used to cook barley. Add onions and cook on medium heat until semi-translucent. Add minced garlic and tomatoes, placing the cut sides down so that the liquid cooks down, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use your spoon to press down the tomatoes to char a little bit. Add barley back to skillet along with basil, salt & peppers. Add remaining oil if needed, and stir well to combine. Add cauliflower, walnuts and cheese and stir well until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Note: If you happen to have walnut oil, this is definitely the recipe to use some in place of the olive oil. If not, no worries, olive oil works perfectly fine.