If you are comfortable cleaning artichokes, this one-pot meal comes together with ease. If not, try it once and you might want to clean artichokes every day (here's how to do it). There's nothing wrong with using frozen or canned artichokes—that is until the fresh ones show up at the market. Pairing artichokes with chewy, whole-grain barley is a traditional Mediterranean combination, having been around since antiquity. Make this ahead to impress guests for dinner—this also allows the flavors to deepen. Or make it on a Sunday to enjoy later in the week. It makes a perfect light meal on its own and leftovers go well alongside grilled chicken or steak. One is as good as the other.
To make this gluten-free, substitute black quinoa. Besides looking spectacular, black quinoa adds crunch to this otherwise soupy dish, but any quinoa works well. Millet and brown rice are fine replacements, too, as is chewy sorghum. You will need 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups cooked grains.
Adapted from "Simply Ancient Grains" by Maria Speck (Ten Speed Press). Photo (c) 2015 by Erin Kunkel —Food52
4 as a light main course or 6 as a side
For the barley:
1 3/4 cups
hulled whole grain barley or sorghum, soaked overnight and drained, or 1 1⁄2 to 2 cups cooked grains (see headnote)
Pinch fine sea salt
For the artichokes:
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
chopped yellow onion (about 2 small)
cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
whole dried chile
fine sea salt
low-sodium soy sauce
dry white wine
1 1/2 cups
low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, or more as needed
globe artichokes, cleaned and quartered (or three whole canned or frozen artichoke hearts—washed well or defrosted)
(14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed, with juices
freshly ground black pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more as needed
To prepare the barley, bring the water, barley, bay leaf, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy, 50 to 60 minutes. If you have time, remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain, if needed.
Meanwhile, to make the stew, heat a large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and wait until it shimmers. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, chile, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften but do not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook, stirring, until it evaporates, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is syrupy and almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth. Nestle the artichokes into the liquid, cut side down, and return to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the stems and the hearts of the artichokes are soft when pierced with a paring knife, 12 to 15 minutes.
Add barley, return to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes more for the flavors to meld. Remove the bay leaves and the chile if you like. Drizzle with the lemon juice. Season to taste with a bit more lemon juice, salt, and pepper (keeping in mind that feta can be salty).
To finish, remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle with the feta, and cover for 2 minutes to allow the cheese to soften. Sprinkle with the parsley. Spoon into shallow rimmed plates, drizzling with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and grinding some black pepper on top.