Barley Risotto with beans and greens/turned into soup

Wifey wants more whole grains. I suppose my thickening, middle-aged trunk could benefit from this too. Barley makes me think either of soup or risotto. I googled (or binged?) barley risotto and was referred to a recipe on for barley riso with beans and escarole. I thought this a good place to start, so headed out to the garden to see what we had.

We had red chard.

My chicken stock was frozen, but three sandwich bags worth of frozen peels and onion stubbs created a quick vegetable stock while I started the dish. (OK, there were a couple of chicken femurs in there too.)

Stem the greens, rinsing well. Finely dice the stems, and saute these, along with a chopped medium onion, a grated carrot and a chopped celery stalk in some olive oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Use about 3 or 4 tablespoons. Season with s and p and allow to cook down and sweeten, about 10 minutes.

Add a cup of pearl barley and stir to coat with the vegetables and oil. After about a minute, maybe two, add 1/2 glass of white wine. Stir until absored.

Start adding ladlefulls of hot stock to the barley. You'll need about 5 cups in all. It shouldn't be dry, though nor should it be soupy.

Add a few handfuls of chopped greens and allow them to wilt, about two minutes. Add 1/2 can of cooked beans (I like to use a little of the liquid too; it adds a nice mouth feel). Check the seasoning.

You could top this with a drizzle of olive oil, some parmesan cheese, shredded basil...

The leftovers were taken to work the next day. That evening, the final leftovers were introduced into a soup. I sauted onion, carrot and celery, added the leftover barley (and some leftover lentils from Sunday's evening meal, see below), some chopped cabbage, some chicken stock, a frozen arugula pesto ice cube from this spring's early crop, a couple of leftover canned tomatoes and their juice, and some sauteed sweet potato cubes. I sauteed these in duck fat because I had it and it makes them taste good. It was very tasty. Soups are easy. They can be anything.


Leftovers again/hot Thai P.M.s

This one was a real mash up of cultures and styles. Fortunately it worked.
I had:

a piece of salmon

two leftover grilled wild shrimp

preserved lemon




fish stock

So, dinner Sunday was broiled miso salmon (Japanese) on a bed of lentils with chopped shrimp (French) with preserved lemon (Moroccan) with a slice of prosciutto resting atop 4 seasoned olives on the side (Italian).

(I also invented "salmon lardons." Basically, this is the crispy salmon skin sliced up and sprinkled over the finished dish.)

The lentil take longest. I made them in a very traditional way, sweating off half a chopped onion, a chopped stalk of celery, and a shredded carrot. I added a cup of dry lentils and stirred these in, bathing the lentils in the flavored sweet vegetables and residual oil. Then I added the warm stock and let this simmer for about 25 minutes.

I marinated the salmon in a little miso, shredded ginger, chopped shallot, soy sauce and sesame oil. To broil it, I first fired up a cast iron pan on the stovetop, seasoned it with a little vegetable oil, and placed the salmon in skin side down. After two minutes it went under the broiler for another five.

To assemble:

Mound some cooked lentils onto the middle of your whitest plate. Top with some cooked salmon, skin removed.

Spoon a bit of preserved lemon off to one side.

Add four-- not three, not five!-- olives to one corner of your square (yes, didn't I say square? Square is best) plate. Drape a lazy slice of delicious, sweet, salty prosciutto atop. Finish the dish with the salmon skin, which you've chopped up into little slices.

A lot going on-- sweet umaminess, salty/crispy, citrusy goodness. You'll never make this dish of course, but let it be an inspiration when you're looking to clear out the fridge.

Wait, that's not it. That's Thailand's gorgeous new P.M.

There it is.