As we have embarked on a few new house projects, painting our rooms have been the easiest to tackle first. Painting has really provided time for me to unwind while listenening to the podcasts that have been building up in my library. The most recent TED talk on the concept of originality really struck a chord. They pose the question: when is copying flattery, when is it thievery and when is it sheer genius? Just because we, as humans, tend to borrow, riff or sample ideas from others does not make us unoriginal- it actually makes us innovators. It’s a novel concept since we (I) have grown up with the belief that the inherent nature of using someone else’s work is morally wrong.
Larabars have become my go-to snack bar because they contain only handful of ingredients, all of which are completely pronounceable,whole foods and come in a variety of flavors. The only thing is they can get a little expensive so my solution is to make them at home! I’m always on the hunt for a new or better homemade snack bar and while I’ve made a few versions before, none really wowed me with their flavor. Except for these. These are a winner because chocolate, cherries and almonds are the three best friends that I ever did see.
In elementary school, Tuesdays and Thursdays were THE best lunch days because I was able to indulge in fast food (just a little bit), Doritos and chocolate chip cookies instead of my usual boring PB&J with pretzels. Food that I really didn’t eat too often at home.
We would line up by class to pick up our one Taco Bell taco or McDonald’s hamburger and had the option to purchase a bag of chips for $0.25 or a cookies for five cent a piece. With only a quarter in my pocket, the big dilemma was choosing the bag of chips or five (whole) cookies. Life decisions for a third-grader. If I chose the chips, I had to do it quickly because the good ones like the Doritos, Lay’s or white cheddar popcorn were always sold out first, leaving only the Salt & Vinegar flavor. Ew. No thank you. It was the vinegar smell that completely turned me off and lingered in my nostrils if anyone even opened a bag.
Let’s just start by saying I absolutely adored this dish. It’s hearty and filling and feels like a warm hug for your stomach. Is that weird? Didn’t think so.
Arborio rice is found in traditional risottos, but this isn’t your traditional risotto. There’s no need to warm vegetable broth in a separate pot, ladle broth into the rice, stir and repeat. Instead, pearled barley is used and this dish doesn’t require the the meticulous preparation and exact measurements as its Italian counterpart. We just sauté the aromatics, add all the broth at once, toss in the barley, kale, tomatoes and seasonings and let the heat do it’s thing. Just a few stirs here and there. Done. Easy peasy one pot dinner.
But! We can’t forget about the marinated feta. Caraway seeds may not be something you have readily available in your pantry but I love them in here, so use them if you can!
I adapted this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem using what ingredients I had on hand. The flavor profile remains in tact, though I added some kale for a pop of green, used leeks instead of celery and probably more tomatoes than originally called for. Still tastes delicious.
barley risotto with marinated feta
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 tbs ghee/unsalted butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- ¾ cup diced leeks
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 strips lemon peel
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- ½-1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- scant 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used Miur Glen’s fire roasted tomatoes- as always)
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2-3 oz crumbly feta cheese
Rinse the pearl barley well under cold water and leave to drain.
Melt the butter and tablespoon on olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the leeks, shallot and garlic over gentle heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the barley, kale, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chili flakes, salt, vegetable broth and tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. It is ready when the barley is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. Lightly crush them so that some whole seeds remain. In a small bowl, combine the feta, crushed caraway seeds and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and gently mix to combine.
Once the risotto is ready, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Divide into bowls and top each with the marinated feta, olive oil included. To bulk up the protein, add some sliced chicken on top! It’s delicious either way.
(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem)
These days, as most days since Noah arrived, getting things done takes much longer than usual. Whether it be cleaning the kitchen (which is a NEVER-ending task), getting all the “fun” tasks around the house done or making dinner. Or lunch. And quite honestly I’ve just about given up on breakfast. I thought the daily routine might get get a little easier as he got older, however a crawling, almost-walking, insanely curious toddler is a force to be reckoned with. Yes, the day-to-day has gotten easier but simultaneously more difficult at the same time, if that even makes sense.