Remember that post about the Hot Whole Grain Breakfast Cereal? I wasn't very careful with the bulk bin at Whole Foods and wound up with at least a pound of barley when I only needed a half a cup for the cereal. Oops. I remembered a recipe that prepared barley risotto-style for a different (but delicious) main course. Here I used onion, garlic, lemon and spinach in the risotto, then topped the dish with a seared scallop. I used all chicken broth, but I'm sure this would be delicious if you used a cup of wine as is traditional with many risottos. Once cooked, the barley was still slightly chewy. It made for a lovely holiday lunch with my college girl friends.
3 lunch servings topped with a scallop, plus leftovers for dinner
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup white wine (if you don't have any wine, use an extra cup of chicken broth)
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups pearl barley
- 1/2 -3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (zest from 1/2 a large lemon)
- 2 cups baby spinach, sliced into ribbons
For serving, if desired
- 3 sea scallops (mine were large and weighted .4 lb total)
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
Melt butter over low heat. Add onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. As the onions cook, bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add garlic to onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add barley and stir to coat barley with butter and onions.
Add wine to barley and simmer until almost all liquid is gone. Add warm broth one cup at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed into the barley. After adding last cup, stir in lemon zest, spinach and cheese (if you are using the scallops, start cooking them now - see below). Stir to wilt spinach. Salt and pepper to taste. The amount of salt added will depend how much salt is already in your broth and cheese. I added pepper to my risotto, but it did not need more salt.
Pat scallops dry, if necesary. If they are wet when they go into the pan, they will steam instead of browning. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat a small skillet (non-stick if desired) over medium-high heat. Add grapeseed oil and butter; swirl pan to coat.