You can probably guess that I'm partial to a cookery programme or two and whilst lazing on the sofa Saturday morning watching Saturday Kitchen I was rather astounded by butter loving Mr James Martin, seafood don 2 Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw and Padstows own Mr Michelin Paul Ainsworth's lack of suggestions when a caller rang in to ask them what she could do with pearl barley. Only Paul came up with a suggestion of artichoke risotto, the other two openly admitted to being completely bemused and said the risotto was a new one on them!!
Their stumped reaction was typical of chefs only wanting to use fancy schmanzy ingredients and forgetting that a meal needn't consist entirely of perfectly aged fillet steak or the finest hand dived scallops, not that I am opposed to these luxury ingredients now and again but I think leave that for when you go and eat out and let the chefs do it properly.
Pearl barley is super tasty, completely natural, full of good carbs and has a healthy dose of protein, and if you add in a load of fresh veggies, some beans, lentils or some chicken and you have a deliciously healthy dinner in about 1/2 an hour! Like all grains pearl barley is a great foundation for flavours, you can add it to stews, soups, salads, stuffing's, dress it up with fresh herbs and lemon for a flavoursome accompaniment to fish and meat in place of potatoes, pasta or rice and even make a risotto with it. And at less than 60p for a 500g bag its cheaper than chips and much better for our waistlines!!!
Heres my favourite thing to do with it at this time of year, warm, comforting and filling!!