Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Red, red wine

Am I still continuing the Pantry/Freezer Challenge, you ask? Well, I was out of pizza leftovers by Monday, and a girl's gotta eat, so...yes! Last night, I had a random dinner of four dates (P) stuffed with herbed brie and wrapped in prosciutto, and two ginormous quesadillas with black beans (P), red peppers and cheddar cheese. Tonight, I just finished eating some beet latkes (F - yeah sounds weird I know, what can I say I had a plethora of beets from my CSA box this summer) and spaghetti with spicy olive bruschetta (P) sauce.

Earlier in the week, I had a vision for a simple yet elegant dinner - barley risotto ("barlotto") made with portabellos and red wine. My friend left a half bottle of grenache at my place after our pizza party, and I'm more partial to pinot, so I figured it could be a star in this recipe...not to mention I could use up some other pantry/freezer ingredients.

Full disclosure - this recipe did not turn out at all as I had thought it would. Yup, that's right...I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. I envisioned sitting down to a creamy, pale pink risotto with the delicate taste of mushrooms and red wine dancing on my tongue. What I ended up with was more down home peasant food than uptown girl - but overall, still tasty and a great use of ingredients!

Recipe Notes: I had to use some short-grained brown rice to supplement the barley, because I didn't have enough, which is likely why the result wasn't quite as starchy and creamy as I would have hoped. In the recipe below, I recommend using all barley! Also, it didn't occur to me that portobello mushrooms would exude so much color to the dish, which is why it's very, very...dark. You could substitute other mushrooms to still get a delicious, woodsy mushroom taste with a lighter colored result. Finally...if you're ever concerned about a recipe...just add parmesan cheese.

Portabello and Red Wine Barlotto
(serves 2)

1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 portabello mushroom caps, stem removed, medium dice
1/2 c pearled barley (P)
1/2 c red red wine
1 c chicken stock, separated (F)
3 T parmesan cheese
optional garnish: crispy strips of prosciutto (why not?)

In a medium saute pan, heat a few teaspoons of oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes till they start to soften, then add the rosemary and the chopped mushrooms. Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally and letting the mushrooms brown, then add the pearled barley to the sauce pan. Allow the barley to toast and the veggies to continue cooking for about 3-5 more minutes. At this point, season with a little salt and pepper (don't add salt earlier, you want the mushrooms to brown instead of just get mushy). Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, and stir to get up any bits off the bottom. Let the wine simmer and almost evaporate, about 3-5 minutes, before adding the first 1/2 cup of stock. Let the stock simmer until almost evaporated, another 5 minutes, then add in the last 1/2 cup of stock. Cover the pan and let everything simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, taste the barley to make sure it's al dente, and if it is then stir in the parmesan cheese. Top with delicious, salty, crispy prosciutto strips if not a vegetarian.

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