Saturday, December 12, 2009

Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Greens

Recipe from Bon Appétit December 2009
Modified and Husband Tested in Alice's Kitchen

We had our friends Helen and Larry over for a simple holiday dinner last night. I wanted to serve something that was rustic, delicious, healthy and meatless. I found this recipe online at http://www.epicurious.com . I modified the basic recipe using some of the suggestions of the reviewers. Everyone loved this flavorful stew and I know because we all had second helpings. Dried porcini mushrooms can be found in the produce section at Lost River Market & Deli. Dried porcini mushrooms are a bit expensive, but one package will supply enough dried porcini mushrooms to make a very flavorful broth for several batches of soups and stocks.

1/2 oz. or less dried porcini mushrooms (I used just a few of the mushrooms in the package.)
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups chopped leeks (about 2 stalks; white and pale green parts only)
1 (8-ounce) container sliced crimini mushrooms
¼ cup cream sherry or dry sherry
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ¼ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), trimmed, center stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups packed)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional for serving)

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in the boiling water. Allow the mushrooms to soak in the water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prep and measure out all of the remaining ingredients.
Heat the oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add leeks; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until leeks begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add crimini mushrooms, sherry, garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms soften and begin to brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Remove the soaked porcini mushrooms from the mushroom soaking liquid. (The liquid will be dark brown. Do not discard. It will help flavor the stew.) Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Strain the soaking liquid using a coffee filter. Add the liquid to the pot. Add tomatoes with juice; stir 1 minute.
Rinse and drain the barley. Add barley and 4 cups vegetable broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add kale; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Cover and simmer until kale and barley are tender, adding more broth or water by 1/4 cupfuls as needed for desired stew consistency, about 10 minutes. Serve the stew topped with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

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