This dish has developed over the past few months along with the progression of seasons. It started as a light room temperature Summer salad with an herb focus, progressed to a spicy squash and greens version in the early Fall, and has culminated in this satiating Italian inspired version worthy of the Holidays. I use barley because it is widely available, but farro can also be substituted if available. Any wild Winter greens would work in the pesto in lieu of the arugula – try dandelion greens or stick to classic basil. The buratta should be added just before serving so it melts slightly but retains its shape (or feel free to omit the cheese if you are going for a vegan version). Enjoy! —Vegantarian
For the Barley
barley, rinsed & drained
garlic, half diced and the other half thinly sliced
chantrelle mushrooms (or half portabellinis or creminis), sliced
Bring barley to a boil in 4 cups of water, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain if needed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss artichoke hearts with one tablespoon olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Bake in a shallow baking dish until crispy, 25 minutes or so. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy wide saute pan over medium heat. Add four cloves thinly sliced garlic, saute until fragrant and lightly browned. Add 2 pounds whole cherry tomatoes and toss to coat with oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until tomatoes break down, 20-30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When most of the tomatoes have split open, add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and mash with the tomatoes into the olive oil using a wooden spoon until you have a chunky sauce.
While barley, artichokes, and tomatoes are cooking, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium. When oil is hot add 3-4 cloves diced garlic, saute until fragrant, about one minute. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 5-8 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside (you will add the other ingredients to the dutch oven before serving).
Process arugula and basil with the garlic, the juice of 2 lemons, and salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil while motor is running until you have a chunky pesto – you want a higher ratio or greens to olive oil here than with a typical pesto. It may taste more bitter than you're used to but it will work once it is added to the other ingredients.
Cut burrata into bite sized pieces. Roughly chop the entire bunch of parsley. Just before serving, reheat mushroom mixture in dutch oven and add 3/4 of the cooked barley. Add pesto mixture and artichokes, and stir until reheated. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil, salt, or pepper as needed. Remove from heat and add burrata and 3/4 of the parsley.
Reheat cherry tomato sauce if needed. The barley risotto can be served on a large platter with the cherry tomato sauce on top, or you can serve individual portions with a good dollop of the sauce on each portion. Drizzle with olive oil and pass around freshly shaved parmigiano-reggiano, the remaining parsley, and crushed red pepper. Yum!