I’ve decided that this is the year of trying new grains*. Don’t get me wrong, I love brown rice, couscous, and quinoa (technically a seed), but I could use a little variation. The first grain on my list was supposed to be farro, but I went to two stores and couldn’t find it. I’m sure I could have found it at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s but barley was everywhere so I decided to start there instead.Apparently, there are a TON of barley soup recipes. I’m not a huge fan of soup so I decided to substitute barley for farro in the recipe I’d originally wanted to try. The recipe involves cooking the barley like a risotto, so it’s not a quick dish, but it’s not difficult. I’ve never had barley before so I was surprised that it tasted so similar to brown rice. This makes a hearty meal that will leave you feeling very full, but in a healthy sort of way. The butternut squash really balances out the nuttiness of the barley. I think this would also be tasty with sweet potatoes or another type of squash. I definitely liked it and will make this dish and other barley dishes again. But I’m still on the hunt for farro!
Barley with Butternut Squash and Kale
Makes 3 servings. Adapted from Epicurious
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (I prefer to buy this already peeled but you could certainly peel this yourself)
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 bunch kale (about 5 ounces), center stems removed, leaves torn
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup barley
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups stock mixed with 2 cups water, warmed**
- 1/4 cup finely grated good quality Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the squash on a rimmed baking pan and drizzle the olive oil evenly over the top. Add salt and pepper and toss to coast. Cook until tender, about 30-35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.
Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool; drain.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add barley and toss to coat. Place pan in oven until the barley is toasted, stirring once, about 6 minutes. Transfer barley to a small bowl and wipe out the pan.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine; increase heat to high. Stir until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add barley and 1/2 cup warm stock mixture. Stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium high and continue cooking, adding broth by 1/2 cupfuls. Allow the broth to be absorbed between additions, until barley is tender, about 1 hour.
Add the kale, squash, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and cheese; stir gently until butter and cheese are melted and vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Not to be confused with the year of Penny on Happy Endings
**You can use any stock you like, but make sure it’s one you really like. This dish is flavored primarily by the stock, so if you don’t like your stock you won’t love this dish.