One of my favorite dishes to make with barley is stuffing. Portobello mushrooms cook quickly and make a nice container for stuffing. As the growing season slows down my palate turns away from the bright, ripe flavors of fresh summer vegetables. I crave a richer, more concentrated flavor that comes from slow cooking. Packed with intense tomato flavor, sun dried tomatoes taste like a long-simmered tomato sauce. I chopped up the tomatoes and tossed them into the cooked barley. The piney aroma of rosemary and tiny mozzarella balls brought an Italian influence. Use a tablespoon of oil from the sun dried tomatoes as a lubricating dressing for the barley stuffing.
The barley mixture is pressed into large portobello mushroom caps which only need to cook on a hot grill for 10 minutes. It’s always good to have a little green on your plate, so I served the stuffed mushrooms on a bed of sautéed kale.
Feel free to use whatever variety of barley you prefer. For this recipe I used pearl barley because it cooks quickly and doesn't need to soak overnight. Also, cook the mushrooms in the oven if you prefer not to use a grill. —la domestique
For the barley stuffing and mushrooms:
oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
oil from the sun dried tomatoes
finely chopped fresh rosemary
perle mozzarella balls (not the size of cherry tomatoes but smaller like a large pearl
freshly ground pepper
portobello mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped out
For the kale
cloves garlic, minced
bunch curly kale (about 10 ounces) washed and cut into bite sized pieces (stems removed)
Cook the barley. Combine barley and water in a medium pot, bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender. Do not overcook. Drain the barley and toss it in a large bowl with the tomatoes, tomato oil, rosemary, mozzarella, salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Preheat the grill to medium high. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil inside and out. Press about half a cup of the barley mixture into each mushroom, depending on its size. Place the mushrooms on the grill and cover the grill with the lid. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.
While the mushrooms are on the grill, cook the kale. Heat a large sautee pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add half the kale to the pan and let it cook down for a moment before adding the other half of the kale. Pour in 1/2 cup water and stir the kale. Cover the pan with its lid and turn down the heat to medium-low. Simmer the kale for about 10 minutes, until tender. Season the kale with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve the stuffed mushrooms on a bed of kale.