Barley and vegetables "risotto"

February 21, 2013

I accidentally logged into Blogger from my personal email address (not the one I use for this blog), and saw the blog I had started writing during the second semester of my first year of college before abandoning it and starting Mademoiselle Sonushka (which, I'm glad to say, I stuck to until now). I have very bittersweet feelings regarding that part of my life, which the previous blog documented in deep details; in short, something terrible had happened during the winter break as a consequence of a mistake I made, and my health (both mental and physical) and studies kind of went downhill from that moment. Though I am grateful that I managed to confront and find closure from what had caused me such unhappiness, and also, to a certain extent, pull myself together and get back on the track to... Greatness? Success? Happiness? Plenitude?..., I think it was like reading an old diary: it brought me perspective. I could finally tell myself that yes, I survived this terrible period, though there's still a lot to be repaired. I also realized that my goalsfor the future had changed: perhaps, due to this bad experience, I became traumatized by university, student life, and the traditional academic path in general (thankfully, I still love France just as much, though, if not more). In any case, it didn't lead me to make any final decision regarding all that; let's say that I'm completing my recovery with my Montréal "getaway", and it's working quite well.

Also, I stumbled again upon a delicious recipe that was my signature homemade comfort food during that year in Paris: barley and vegetables "risotto". I had discovered barley by mistake that year, buying it at the store without really knowing what it was; and in the following two years I found myself cooking with it more frequently than rice. Call it a barley obsession, but it does have better nutritive values, and tastes about the same, or, to be more precise, halfway between rice and pasta.
In any case, I decided to share this recipe again (because let's face it, my readership on the old blog was almost nonexistent, haha). I corrected a few English mistakes/Gallicisms, and changed a few things because after two years of making a dish, you learn how to perfect it. It can be served on its own, or as a side to, say, steak, filet mignon, chicken, or fish.

Ingredients (for 2 persons as a main dish, or 4 as a side, or one very hungry person...)
3/4 cup of barley (In France I used Ebly; in the States I use Quaker)
2 cups of water
1 medium aubergine (eggplant), diced
1 cup of fresh spinach
1 half cup of chopped mushrooms
1 bell pepper (I use red for the colour, but you can use any), diced
Sun-dried tomatoes
1 packet of powdered tomato soup mix (optional, can be replaced by powdered chicken broth)
Olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
Grated parmesan (optional)

In a separate pan, heat the water.
Heat olive oil  (about three tablespoons) in a large pan.
When it's hot enough, sauté the aubergines; add two tablespoons of water once they absorb all the oil and repeat until tender. Add the mushrooms, then the bell pepper.
Sauté the vegetables for two minutes until tender but not mushy. Finally, add the sun-dried tomatoes.
Add the wheat and the powdered tomato soup mix/chicken broth. Toss for a minute, to coat the wheat with the oil and bring all the flavours together.
Pour in the heated water, then add the spinach.
Give a quick stir and cover, let cook for 10 minutes (you definitely want to keep an eye on it as it can burn very fast) or until all the water is evaporated.
Melt in one tablespoon of butter for a creamy texture. Salt to taste (but be careful, as the chicken broth is already very salty)
Optional: top with grated Parmesan.

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Josephine said...

This looks delicious! I love a good risotto!

<3 Josephine

Caroline said...

I'm glad you were able to gain some perspective through seeing your old blog! It's fascinating what blogging can bring to us - memories from the past, feelings from the past, etc.

This recipe is splendid! Always on the lookout for healthy, delicious meals! :)

Melissa said...

thanks for the comment on my blog :)

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....... said...

mmm looks lovely im obsessed with rissotto will try thanks for the recipe! xx.gigi. food and beauty blogger @

Vivienne said...

This looks yummy!!

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