Monday, 27 February 2012

Bowl Me Over!

Piatto Rustico d' Orzo, Puntarelle, Salsiccia Piccante e Olive
A Rustic Bowl of Barley, Puntarelle, Spicy Sausage and Olives

I decided to do do another dish with barley this evening- you really can't beat it in the Winter months! It may be a little old-fashioned but it is wonderfully versatile at the same timed. You can make a lot of dishes with barley... including dishes like this!

This is basically one of those dishes where you can improvise and adapt according to what you have available at any given time. Today, I happened to have the leaves of the Puntarella left over and had decided that I wanted to use them up in one way or another- and this was how I went about it...

I started off with a fine dice of carrot, celery and onion, which I sautéed with a little crushed garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the celery and onion were translucent, I added the barley and some finely chopped parsley, including the stalks and deglazed the pan with a little Sambuca. I then poured in enough boiling water to cover the barley, seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little cayenne and reduced the heat to a simmer. After 3-4 minutes, the barley had begun to absorb the water and at this point I added a cupful of milk and the puntarelle. On went the lid, down went the temperature and whilst the barley cooked for the next 5 minutes, I took the time to slice up some spicy Italian dried sausage, but you could also use bacon or salami.

After 5 minutes, the liquid had also been absorbed by the barley, which was now almost double in volume and almost done. I topped-up the barley with a little more boiling water and added the sausage slices and a handful of finely chopped chives. A final 3-4 minutes should be enough and then you can add the final finishing touches before serving, which were a few fresh, stoned olives and a dash of good olive oil. And then I added a last sprinkle of chili flakes and settled down to supper! Earthy, honest and tasty food- with no added stock or additional flavors... which is just the way that it should be. Clean, fresh and delicious and the perfect Winter dish! Buon apetito!

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