Tu B’Shevat (the New Year for trees) is coming up next week and while it is a pretty minor Jewish holiday, particularly among Ashkenazi, celebrations of it seem to be becoming more common. Kabbalists in the 16th century developed a seder ritual around Tu B’Shevat and these days a lot of Jewish environmental groups host community Tu B’Shevat seders. The seder has a lot in common with the Passover seder, but the symbolic foods are typically the Seven Species of the Land of Israel (pomegranate, wheat, olives, figs, grapes, dates and barley) along with a variety of fruits and nuts… and of course 4 glasses of wine.
In addition to being holiday relevant, barley is also very healthy and super high in fiber, so it is a good addition to your menu to help you achieve any new year resolutions. Keep in mind that is also a key ingredient in the production of beer and whiskey, so it can help you break those resolutions as well.
Along with its place at the Tu B’Shevat table, and its long history in the middle east, barley is also prominent in Ashkenazi dishes, like cholent, soups and as a pilaf style dish with mushrooms. There are a variety of recipes in Jewish cookbooks for baked barley with mushrooms, but all of them call for onions, mushrooms, barley and stock.
I added a slightly modern flair by including a wide variety of mushrooms along with dried porcini. I also choose to caramelize my onions for a richer flavor base. I used schmaltz and chicken stock for my recipe, but you can easily replace those with oil and vegetable stock if you want to make a vegetarian or parvre version. Use any variety of mushrooms you have available. The more variety the better.
post from one year ago: (Crock)Pot Roast
Baked Barley with Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons schmaltz, butter or oil
- 3 medium onion chopped
- 8 oz sliced white or crimini mushrooms (about 9 ounces)
- 8 oz of a variety of mushrooms, sliced or chopped (about 8 ounces)
- 1 package dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 C chicken or vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- reconstitute the dried porcini in 1 C of warm water. Save the water!
- Melt the schmaltz in a large saucepan and caramelize the onions.
- Add mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes or browned, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the barley and cook 2 minutes
- Stir in salt, pepper and the porcini mushrooms including the water.
- Pour the barley mixture into a large over-proof casserole dish.
- Bring stock to a boil in the saucepan and pour it over the barley mixture.
- Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until barley is tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.