Friday, 17 February 2012

Precious Pearls

Orzo Perlato con Pomodoro e Manzo Trittato con Pastinaca Croccante
Tomato & Beef Pearl Barley with Crispy Parsnip

I love pearl barley- its chewy, nutty flavor is so easy to combine with other ingredients and to transform into any number of wonderful dishes, especially during the Winter months. And so this evening, I improvised another quick, easy and delicious meal which is bound to please, especially with these sub-zero temperatures!

With just a tiny handful of ground beef left over, I went about preparing this little beauty of a dish and tried to get as much flavor into the barley as possible... and it IS possible! And this is how!

Start frying the ground beef in a dry pan and crumbling it apart as you go. Once it is cooked, but not quite brown, remove and set to one side and begin to fry the thinly sliced parsnip slices in the residual oil from the meat- waste not-want not! And all of that good flavor from the meat too! Keep turning the parsnip until it is golden and crispy brown.., delicious! Remove the parsnips from the pan and return the meat, but now add the barley, some finely diced carrots, celery and Spring onions.

Sautée together for 5-6 minutes, adding flavor with finely-chopped parsley, freshly grated nutmeg, ground chili and dried basil, then deglaze with a little white wine. Add a good tablespoon of tomato paste, add enough boiling water to cover everything, stir well, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes on a small flame.

Once the barley is cooked and the liquid has all been absorbed, add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes and remove from the heat- you want the cherry tomatoes to add a fresh, juiciness to the dish and there is enough residual heat there to make sure that tomatoes do not remain completely raw.

Serve with the crispy parsnips as a garnish, along with a generous sprinkle of cracked black pepper and a couple of parsley leaves for color- and enjoy! What's not to love?!!

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