Purple food is a bit radical. It’s a color existing mostly in rainbows and flowers but not necessarily in food, unless you’re diving into a bag of Skittles. So I was pleased to find a bag of purple barley at Cookbook the day I popped into the store. I bought it on impulse, took it home, and proceeded to read about it and whole grains in general. Reading that cooked whole grains make an excellent staple in the winter diet, as the complex carbs burn well into the body as fuel, I knew this barley was going to make a great dish. I was so excited I even took a picture.
And I did little more for about two weeks. Walking past the counter to grab a quick something, I’d see it sitting in the pretty cellophane bag taunting me with its slow-cooked winter ways. It was tempting to slow down. But I had goals to meet, people to see, and emails to send. Then a butternut squash showed up in the eroots produce box. Shapely, seductive, with a rich sweet somewhat nutty flavor, it seemed the perfect companion to the purple barley.
Inspired yet again, I opened the bag. I gave the cup of barley a quick boil. All that resulted was a hot mess of hard-as-rock grain at the bottom of the pan.
I ran off to the computer, scribbled a note to the company Timeless Foods and asked, “what gives?” Ever so politely they told the burgeoning food blogger to follow the instructions on the package. It said to soak overnight and then cook for at least 30 minutes. Oh. I see. So I let it soak another night, this time in vegetable stock. The next day I cooked it for about 45 minutes. And a little more soaking and then a little more liquid. Slowly these pretty purple bits opened up and evolved into organic heirloom grainy goodness. A little chewy, full of texture and flavor, it was time to find a way to serve it up to the masses. I’d seen NYT recipes for barley risotto. Tasty, but I just wasn’t that interested. So I made my own thing up. Here is it.
Purple Prairie® Barley Patience Salad
1 cup of uncooked purple barley
2 cups chopped butternut squash
About 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
About 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
About 1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt (to taste)
1 cup chopped spinach
Some goat cheese (optional)
Following the directions on the outside of the package, cook barley. Mix chunks of squash with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and sage. Roast at 400 degrees F until softened and browned.
Add the squash, barley, spinach together and salt to taste. Mix in goat cheese.
About Purple Prairie® Barley & Timeless Foods
According to Timeless Foods website Purple Prairie® Barley originated in Tibet. It has 15% protein content. They report that some people with wheat allergies find this barley an acceptable substitute. Purple Prairie® Barley is a trademark of Timeless Seeds, Inc., so don’t go around writing “purple prairie” unless you put the little circle “r” behind it.
I like the Timeless Foods website at http://www.timelessfood.com as they have some interesting recipes such as Lentil Chocolate Chip cookies. I may just have to try that on the kids sometime soon.
Other purple barley recipes I plan to check out:
I liked the sound of Lamb Stew with Purple Barley found at: http://rainydaygal.com/2010/04/26/lamb-stew-with-purple-prairie-barley/. And Mother Earth News has a great article with lots of information and a good selection of recipes at http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/barley-recipes-zmaz09djzraw.aspx.
Beat the winter greys with purple barley. Try the recipe above and let us know how it turns out.