Author Notes: 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
- 2 ears of fresh sweet corn
- 1 small onion, white or yellow
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 or 2 stems of fresh parsley
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups pearled barley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- handfuls cilantro, chopped
- 1 green portion of scallion, chopped
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- a few grindings of white pepper
- Cut corn kernels off the cob
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Corn off the Cob