BARLEY WITH KALE PESTO
Yesterday I shared with you my recipe for Grilled Shrimp with Lime-Cilantro Butter.
This delicious shrimp is wonderful served along side Barley with Kale Pesto.
The recipe combines three of my favorite things: Barley, Kale & Pine Nuts. Isn’t that a fantastic combination? The inspiration for this recipe comes from a similar recipe found in the August Issue of Food & Wine Magazine. They published a recipe called Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto, by Jessica Koslow. In fact, it was featured on the cover of the magazine and it caught my attention because I adore all things kale.
But I wasn’t looking for a salad recipe to serve with my Grilled Shrimp; instead, I needed a starchy side dish. The usual suspects, rice or potatoes seemed boring, but barley, my new passion food, sounded like just the ticket! So I adapted the Food & Wine recipe to suit my needs. Here’s how I made it:
Start by boiling a 16 ounce bag of pearled barley in salted water according to package instructions. “Pearled” barley has been processed to remove the hull and the bran. It is similar to wheat in its caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral content. And it is a good source of dietary fiber; in fact, one serving provides 24% of your RDA of fiber.
Cook the barley for about 30 minutes until it achieves an al dente texture. Drain the barley and set it aside to cool.
Next, mince 3 tablespoons of shallots.
Add the minced shallots to a small frying pan with 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook the shallots over low heat until they caramelize and become golden brown. Doing this gives them an extraordinary flavor. Be very careful not to burn the shallots in the process, which is easy to do.
In another small frying pan, toast 3 tablespoons of pine nuts. Toss them around as you toast them, taking care not to burn them, which is also easy to do.
Pine nuts have a delicious, buttery texture and add a very pleasant crunch to many dishes, especially when they’re toasted. They are actually the edible seed from a female pine cone and are used in a lot of Mediterranean foods. My dad, a Spaniard, first introduced me to pine nuts when I was a child. I have such a pleasant recollection of gathering pine nuts during a camping trip to Yosemite. I loved them then and I still love them today. And pine nuts have the added benefit of being very nutritious. Their heart-friendly monounsaturated fatty acids help reduce cholesterol, another reason to love pine nuts. Admittedly, they do tend to be expensive, so I buy my pine nuts in a 1.5 lb. bag at Costco, and store them indefinitely in the freezer.
Now that you have caramelized your shallots and toasted your pine nuts, it is time to add them both to the cooked, drained and cooled barley.
Give it a stir to incorporate the shallots and pine nuts into the barley. Now, give it a taste. Delicious isn’t it? If you wanted to stop here you could, and simply serve your barley like this. The olive oil, combined with the caramelized shallots and the toasted pine nuts, is wonderful. But for this recipe we are going to keep going.
The next ingredient is 1/2 cup of diced yellow bell pepper.
Add it to the barley and give it another stir.
Now we are going to make the kale pesto. I am a big fan of pesto of all sorts. Pesto is traditionally made with fresh basil, but I often make it with Italian parsley, with arugula, or with cilantro. Occasionally, I even make it with fresh sage. For this recipe I used Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Kale that I buy at Costco.
Measure 4 cups of fresh kale and place it in your blender. I use my Vitamix, but you can also make Pesto in a food processor. Using a food processor will give your pesto a coarser texture than pesto prepared in a blender.
Pour in 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil…
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice…
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt…
and blend until smooth, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides.
Scrape the kale pesto into the barley and mix to combine.
Add more Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Mix to combine and serve at room temperature.
So there you have it: Barley with Kale Pesto.
Are you also a fan of Kale?
- 16 ounces pearled barley
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
- 4 cups fresh baby kale leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Additional Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- Boil pearled barley in salted water according to package instructions until al dente, about 30 minutes.
- Drain well and set aside to cool.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan.
- Add minced shallots and cook over low heat, stirring until caramelized.
- Add the shallots, toasted pine nuts and diced yellow bell pepper to the cooled barley.
- Mix to combine.
- Add the baby kale to a blender or food processor.
- Pour in remaining ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
- Blend or process until smooth, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides.
- Scrape pesto into the barley and stir to combine.
- Add Kosher salt and and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.
Serve at room temperature.
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