I am happy to look at other grainy alternatives such as bulghur wheat, couscous, farro, oats and rye and expand my culinary repertoire, but not for barley. I don't make time for barley. I had horrible experience of it at school. Instead of a hearty bowl of soup it looked like a porridge of vomit (sorry I know thats too much information for a food blog), worse still I remember my spoon standing upright in the bowl, that is how thick it was. However, many years later I found myself at the University canteen, hungry with only a few pence on me. The affordable option was Barley soup. Due to my hunger pangs, I was willing to give barley another try and overcome my prejudices towards it, but as soon as I parted with my coins I instantly regretted wasting my pennies. Instead of being soft plump cushions of grains, it was like eating pellets.
So a few years on again, was I going to give barley another chance. Yes, but it just had to be cooked to my taste with flavours I like.
I was so concerned with my own taste buds, that I forgot to consider D's feelings towards barley. It was only upon serving hat I became a bit nervous on how D would receive this dish. I was waiting for him to say 'eek, barley should only be used for winter soups'. But I was pleasantly surprised as he got up and cleaned out the remaining barley grains in the pot.
Oh I nearly forgot, my verdict. I am not saying I am a convert of barley, but I actually enjoyed it cooked this way. The grain soft and chewy. It benefited from the additional spices too. In fact I am thinking of doing a bit more experimenting with the grain. I served the spiced barley with some grated carrot.
Cumin spiced Barley with shallots and broccoliServes 2 people
2 shallot, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chilli or cayenne powder
Salt to taste
Broccoli for two
Gently fry two shallots in the olive oil, then add the barley with the cumin and cook until the shallots are tender. Then cover the barley with water and simmer for 20 minutes. Then place the broccoli on top of the barley, do not stir. Cover ad cook for another 10 minutes, or until the barley and broccoli is tender. A little bit of the juice left in the pan is okay.