Sunday, June 19, 2011

Barley with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Happy Father’s Day! My dad and I are scarily similar (check out my Ode to Dad on this post.). No surprise then that we appreciate the same things in life – playing a hand of solitaire to relieve stress, the art of attracting birds to the backyard by using an array of bird feeders, a love for animals, an appreciation of common sense and the knowledge that we have more than anyone else (j/k . . . sort of . . .) and how, if you commit to something, you commit to it 100%. Nothing less, Dad, nothing less.

Dad’s always a comfort to me because I know if I need anything, I just have to ask. That’s what makes comfort foods such a favorite of mine too. The emotional satisfaction I get from comfort foods is a guarantee – just like Dad’s support during a challenging time. Although Dad's comforting ways are year round, it is harder to have comforting foods in the summer when you are tempted with all the fresh fruits and veggies. I do love farmer’s markets though. And I do love the taste of fresh green beans as opposed to canned green beans. And I do love how I drive by about six produce stands on my way home that are brimming with goods. I should clarify that my definition of produce stand includes anything resembling a lean-to to a slab of plywood on two cinder blocks. Folks are quite resourceful on Highway 16.

That being said, I am slightly excited that the first day of summer is next week which means the days start getting shorter which means cooler weather (and Christmas!) won’t be too terribly far behind. I know, I know. This is wishing my life away. But, wow, when I see 95+ degrees on more than four days of a seven-day-weather-outlook, I start to get annoyed. That is exactly why I stay inside in the summer and don’t take the time to enjoy those cute produce stands. I can’t surround myself in a 68-degree bubble like, say, the interior of my car, while I sort through some heirloom tomatoes.

Yes, fruits make fantastic summer desserts and crisp salads are the ultimate light summer dinner but there is something about a warm bowl of something. So I give you this recipe. It uses fresh veggies (mushrooms and onions – I’m starting off easy for you) with some hearty elements. So you can have some comfort food when it is 98 degrees. Check back with me in December and I’ll see if I can make a legitimate fresh fruit pie when the ground is frozen solid. At least I know my dad will still have my back.

Barley with Caramelized Onions and Pasta
Adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup small pasta (I used Macaroni)

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until deep brown, about 15 minutes. Add barley and stir 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; sauté until barley browns and mushrooms begin to soften. Mine took about 4 minutes. Add broth; bring mixture to boil (which was pretty immediate for me). Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barley is tender and broth is absorbed, about 25 minutes. While mixture is simmering, cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain pasta when cooked al dente. Mix pasta into barley once barley has absorbed the broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 good-sized servings.

No comments: