Orzo Perlato allo Zafferano, con Asparagi Selvaggi e Crespini
Saffron Pearl Barley with Barberries and Wild Asparagus
I love the yummy, chewy consistency of barley- it is makes such a satisfying meal! I really have no idea why some other crack-pot fads have cropped up with other grains (Quinoa?!?! ... Oh please!), when there are grains out there that are like... real food!
I decided to go out on a limb and make a slightly more unusual kind of dish though this evening and created this Arabic-influenced "stew" of barley, asparagus and barberries. I spiced it up with saffron and Ras al Hanout rouge... and was more than pleasantly surprised with the result! And I hope you will be too!
I brought my water to the boil, added a good pinch of saffron, the barley and the Ras al Hanout and let it simmer for 10 minutes. I measured 3 tablespoons of barley and 1 teaspoon of spice per portion. I reduced the heat to a gentle simmer and got to work on preparing the other ingredients.
I had some wild asparagus left over, but I think anything else fresh and green would work too- something like fresh beans, snow peas, zucchini or even spinach. I cut most of the asparagus into small pieces, but set a few stalks aside for decoration. The more cut edges of the asparagus you have- the more flavor it will give to your stew!
After 10 minutes, I added the small pieces of asparagus, 1 tablespoon of barberries per portion, some chopped Spring onion, grated ginger, cayenne pepper, lime juice and finely chopped cilantro. This went back onto the heat for 5 minutes... after which time I added the longer asparagus stalks and a good handful of finely chopped parsley. Salt and pepper of course... and a little sugar and lemon juice- just enough to make your taste buds tingle!
5 minutes after that, the barley was nice and plump and chewy, the small pieces of asparagus soft and juicy and the longer stalks still perky and nice! And the juices/broth were simply divine! Spicy and pungent from the barberries, hot and a wonderful oriental treat on a dull Frankfurt evening! Yes indeed... in a Summer like this- it is nice to dream of far-off lands... or at least have a taste of their flavors! I hope you enjoy this too!