This is my own version of a recipe that appeared years ago in the Washington Post. My daughter Karly-rhymes-with-barley was fond of mushroom-barley soup and was a vegetarian at the time. I was intrigued by a possible way to get her to eat barley in the summertime. I do a lot of Mexican cooking, so I pumped up the corn-y and Latin flavors by making a corn-cob stock and adding cilantro and lime juice and zest. Served at room temperature, it's an irresistible summer side or buffet dish. —zora
Break the stripped cobs in pieces and put them into a saucepan, cover with the water, add half of the onion, the bay leaf and parsley. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove the solids and measure the stock. You'll need slightly less than three cups to cook the barley.
Finely mince the remaining half onion. Heat the olive oil in a sauce or saute pan and cook the onion until translucent, adding the salt. Add the barley and stir for a minute or two until the grains are coated with oil and smell toasty. Add 2 3/4 to 3 cups of corn cob stock, stir and cover. Turning the heat down to low.
After about 15 minutes have elapsed, check the doneness of the barley. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed. If there is a lot of liquid and the kernels are still hard, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for yet another five minutes. If the barley is tender and there is still a fair amount of liquid at the bottom of the pot, pour the solids into a strainer to drain off excess liquid.
Allow the pilaf to cool to room temperature. Stir in the chopped cilantro and scallion, the zest and juice of a lime and the ground white pepper. Add salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.