Monday, March 22, 2010

Risotto with Kale and Beets (Barley version):

Well, I wish I hadn't goobered up my photo with that blob of chevre on top of the risotto, but too late now. This alternate version to the Beet and Kale Risotto I posted about last week was really good. A chewier consistency due to the barley, but it's a more nutritious grain.
Unlike the photo shows, I prefered the leftovers with the addition of a queso fresco with jalapenos to the chevre. Very nice. I also liked it mixed with some fresh spinach or baby arugula.
I went with golden beets rather than the red, but it's pretty either way.
I also felt the kale could use with some braising rather than just wilting it. Really only takes a few more minutes to do and you wind up with a nicer consistency on the kale.

Barley Risotto with Beets and Kale:
(based on Austin's Olivia restaurant's recipe)

1 pound golden beets
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
agave nectar to taste (I added this in because the red wine vinegar needed something to mellow it out a little)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
3 cups+ ~1/4-1/3 cup vegetable broth, or reduced salt chicken broth; divided
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp+ salt

Preheat oven to 350°

Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Wrap beets in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; cool. Trim off beet roots and stems; rub off skins. Cut beets into quarters. Place beets, vinegar, tarragon, and 1 tablespoon oil in a blender. Process until smooth; balance flavors with a little agave nectar if you feel it's needed; set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Heat 1 Tbs oil in pan and add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add kale to pan; cook until kale wilts, stirring frequently, add about 1/4-1/3 cup of broth, cover and reduce heat to low for about 10 minutes. Remove kale mixture from pan; wipe pan clean.

Bring 3 cups broth and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat (I actually nuked the broth in a 4 cup glass measuring cup and renuked if needed throughout).

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add barley; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next, until all broth has been used. Should take around 30-40 minutes. Test the barley after you've added all the liquid and if you feel it could take more just heat up a bit more broth and keep stirring away.

Stir in pureed beet mixture, kale, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Top with slices of queso fresco, or whatever else floats your boat...again nice on top of some fresh baby spinach or baby arugula.

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