It's been rainy couple of days here in Sydney, but as odd as it may sound, I'm quite enjoying it. It's particularly enjoyable when one doesn't have to go anywhere, just have a quiet home-office day and listen to the rain outside. On a day like today, I don't mind standing next to the stove cooking something that might take a bit more time to prepare. Whether it's chopping up vegetables to make a stock or stirring an orzotto like this, I find a comforting serenity in all of it.
This is a hearty autumn dish on its own or a nice alternative to serve as a side dish to fish or meat. You could also pair it with a couple of soft boiled or poached eggs or creamy goat cheese or feta. Served in anyway it's lovely not least because of it's beautiful colour.
4 small/medium sized beets
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
2 green garlics, finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 to 1 1/2 litres hot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1. Wash the beets and cut out the leaves leaving a small stalk attached. Place the beets in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil, then let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until fully tender. Drain, slip off the skins and mash into a purée.
2. While the beets are cooking, start cooking the barley. There are a couple of ways to go about this. You could either sauté the green garlic, rosemary and pearl barley in some olive oil for a few minutes, then add stock OR just add the stock, pearl barley, garlic and rosemary into a large pan and bring to boil. Keep adding stock if necessary until the barley is fully cooked. This will take about 40 minutes.
3. Add the puréed beets, olive oil and walnut oil into the barley and season with freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a few minutes or just let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.