Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pearled Barley Lager Summer Stew

Most anything I make is based on availability and craving. The other day soup sounded really good so I threw a bunch of stuff we had on hand into a pot and called it stew. A delicious and hearty vegan-y stew!

I had frozen some leftover vegetable stock in its container before we left for Denver because I made one of those recipes that just calls for 2-4 tablespoons of broth. Really?

A special thing about this recipe is it starts off as a soup but evolves into a stew, thanks to the pearled barley. I bought some pearled barley a few months ago and have been at a loss for what and how to use it. I see on instagram some use it in replacement of rice. The one time I cooked it by itself, I was unimpressed and the bag has sat in the pantry ever since. Soup provides a great solution for transporting almost any grain out of your pantry. I may even buy it again because it was delicious in this soup!

Make use of the bounty of produce available at your farmer's markets to create a 'local' variation of this. I've seen a lot of zucchini and carrots teeming the tables at Portland's PSU farmer's market.

My husband took notice that something yummy in this reminded him of meat - in the texture sense - we finally deduced that it was the plumped up sun-dried tomatoes.

One of the other special ingredients in this is a black lager. I threw in the lager last minute because we had it and I thought it would be interesting. The lager provided a great back drop to the stew's depth of flavor without overwhelming the whole pot. Perfect. Stuff like this will happen when you take a look in the fridge for that one other ingredient you could add. I remember years ago making Guinness cakes and Guinness stew so why not a lager stew? I think a dark stout would also work. Let us know what local brews you used.

I made this on Saturday and we just finished up the last bowls for lunch today.  This stew will only graduate in flavor as the days go on.  Feel free to freeze it if you don't want to eat stew constantly for a few days. If you use ball jars, make sure you leave about an 1" of space at the top to avoid a broken jar and wasted soup - in your freezer.

  •     1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  •     1 cup red/white onion, chopped
  •     6-7 garlic cloves, minced
  •     1 1/2 cups pearled barley, rinsed in a colander
  •     12 cups vegetable broth OR (4 cups vegetable broth + 8 cups boiling water + 3 vegetable bullion cubes)
  •     1 - 12oz bottle of dark lager (I used Baba Black Lager)
  •     5 stalks celery, chopped
  •     3 large carrots, chopped
  •     1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
  •     6 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  •     1 - 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for an hour, then thinly chopped
  •     1 cup cilantro, chopped
  •     1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  •     1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  •     sriracha or cayenne pepper to taste
  •     ground pepper to taste

In a stock pot, heat up the olive oil on medium heat and toss in the onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes, turning down the heat if necessary.
Add rinsed pearled barley and saute another 2 minutes.
Now add vegetable broth and dark lager, bring to a boil.
Add remaining ingredients, turn down heat to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.

Garnish with some additional fresh cilantro and enjoy with large pint!

Michelle Felt
Michelle is a graduate of the Raw Gourmet Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, where the produce is crazy fresh abundant and the culture is as thick as the Midwest’s humidity. She loves raw foods and advocates for eating with realism and relish. "Approach each eating experience as an opportunity to nourish your body, eating the best you can, in the moment."

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