Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adventures With Purple Barley

Last night I put 2 cups of Lonesome Whistle's Purple Barley and about 6-7 cups of water in my slow cooker. I've been meaning to try this since my success with the Scottish Oats in the slow cooker. Right before I went to bed I set it on low for 8 hours. This morning - warm and tasty barley cereal ready to go! We added butter, milk, and sweetener as we served. Some of us had it with honey, some with molasses, and some with brown sugar. Everyone enjoyed it - even Sister-Bug who often refuses to eat things that don't have Gorgonzola in them. This is one of my new favorite ways to deal with breakfast and my hungry little bugs who often can't even wait for eggs to scramble! How perfect to have breakfast ready to go, the moment they are up and clamoring for food.

A red bowl of slow-cooked purple barley.

My other success with the purple barley was the following recipe - made up largely because my mom gave me a container of Mascarpone and I didn't have any immediate inspirations of what to do with it. Leafing through old cookbooks I found a recipe for risotto with Mascarpone and Pancetta. The idea struck my fancy, and this recipe was the result. It seemed to be kind of a risotto/pilaf hybrid and I'm just not sure what to call it. It is amazingly rich and warming. Papa-Bug, in particular couldn't have enjoyed it more. 

Decadent Barley with Mascarpone

1/2 onion
5 tbl. butter
2 cups purple barley
1/2 pound ham cubed (I used a nitrite-free ham slice from Deck Family Farm...soooo good)
5-6 cups chicken broth
8 oz Mascarpone cheese
4 tbl. Fresh parsley
5-7 Green onions

Heat the butter in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan. Chop the onion and saute until clear. Add the barley and continue to saute for another 5-7 minutes (in making risotto you wait for the rice to look 'clear', which didn't happen with the barley).  Add the ham and toss to combine. Add the chicken broth and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the barley is done through - this took about an hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-30 minutes (this is essential, as it keeps the Mascarpone from separating too much). Just before serving, mix in the minced parsley and green onions and the Mascarpone.

My thanks go out to my mom for putting the Mascarpone in my fridge, causing the creation of this pleasing recipe!


  1. Yumm, your pilaf hybrid sound delicious.

    Do they have their purple barely retail somewhere?

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  3. I want them to sell their lovelies at Growers, but so far they don't have quite enough production for that. You can click on the Lonesome Whistle link to find their website to contact them about getting some barley of your own, or use this link...

  4. I got this in my email -

    What was the final texture of your barley? I’ve cooked it once – intended to soak it overnight, but that turned into a 24 hour soak plus an hour + cooking time. Grains didn’t change in texture after 45 minutes, and stayed quite chewy – like wheat berries.

    And took a while to respond. The barley remained quite chewy, but a tender kind of chewy. All in all, since barley is supposed to be a chewy texture, I felt like the slow-cooking really softened it.