I came up with this dish over break when I found some pearl barley and fresh, organic red beets at home. Pearl barley is barley that has been husked to the point of ridding most of its tough shell. Although refined and not a whole grain, pearl barley is still nutritious and contains fiber throughout the entire grain, not just in the skin. Not to mention it is also a good source of protein, iron, B complex vitamins (not B 12), and selenium which supports the immune system. When enjoyed with kale, this recipe remains nutritious despite the carbs and cheese.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
3 medium red beets (preferably with stalks still attached)
1 small onion or a few shallots
A small bunch of kale
2 cups of pearl barley
6 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of white wine (optional)
Gorgonzola or goat cheese
A pat of butter
1. Thoroughly wash beets and cut off stems an inch from the root. Wrap in foil and roast in a 400°F oven on a baking sheet for 50-60 minutes.
2. When the beets are done roasting, take them out of the oven and unwrap foil. After they are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem and root and peel them. Chop the beets into small chunks and set aside
3. Have the stock simmering on low flame in a small pot. Risotto cooks best with hot liquid, but you can do without heating it as well
4. Chop onion or shallots into chunks and sauté in another pot with a bit of olive oil. Cook onions or shallots for 4 minutes until they are translucent and soft.
5. Wash the kale and while taking hold of the stem, rip the leaves off the stalk. Roll up the leaves tightly and slice into pieces.
6. Roughly measure out the pearl barley and pour into the pot. Cook and stir with wooden spoon for 1 minute and add the kale in after.
7. After the kale slightly wilts in the oil, add either 1/2 cup of white wine or pour in the hot vegetable stock 1/2 cup at a time while stirring. The barley will absorb the liquid, cook and plump up after each adding cup of of vegetable stock (this will take about 30 minutes).
8. Stir in some butter to add some richness and creaminess. 9. Toss in the roasted beets and stir. And yes, everything will turn a deep-pink color! Season with salt, pepper and stir in some goat or Gorgonzola cheese (Parmesan would be great too) to finish it off.