What a powerhouse of healthy ingredients! First, there’s the barley. This versatile grain has a somewhat chewy consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that can complement many dishes. It’s also rich in many nutrients and packs some impressive health benefits, ranging from improved digestion and weight loss to lower cholesterol levels and a healthier heart.
And mushrooms are a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. Plus, the anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system.
Kale, one of the so-called “superfoods” is also packed with nutrition that puts it high on the list of world’s healthiest food, not to mention it is low in calories and has zero grams of fat.
All health info aside, the soup is just darn tasty too! Because our onion wasn’t very large, we also included a shallot. Instead of lining a strainer with cheesecloth, The Hubs drained the hydrating porcinis through a coffee filter, which prevents any grit seeping into the broth.
It will keep for about three days in the refrigerator, but the barley will swell and absorb liquid, so you will have to add more to the pot when you reheat. We added one cup of mushroom broth when we reheated a few days later.
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thick
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
3/4 cup whole or pearl barley
1 1/2 qts. chicken stock, or beef stock
A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme, parsley and a bay leaf
8 oz. kale, stemmed and washed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Set a strainer over a bowl, and line it with cheesecloth, or better yet, a coffee filter. Lift the mushrooms from the water and squeeze over the strainer, then rinse in several changes of water. Squeeze out the water and set aside. Strain the soaking water through the cheesecloth/coffee filter-lined strainer. Add water as necessary to make two cups. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just about tender, about five minutes.
Add the sliced fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant.
Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves in bunches and cut crosswise into slivers. Add the kale to the simmering soup, and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. The kale should be very tender. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.
Found in a recent Fine Cooking Magazine, this tasty side dish recipe is a perfect combination of balsamic vinegar, kale, and red onion. The side made a wonderful partner to our Roasted Loin Chops with Charmoula.
With only the two of us, we cut the amount of onions and kale in half, the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth by a third, and the remaining ingredients were kept the same. The original recipe is intact below.
In bowl toss onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet; add onion mixture. Cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add broth and vinegar. Cover; cook 15 minutes or until onions are tender.
Add butter. Increase heat to high. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until onions are glazed.
Meanwhile, add kale to roasting pan. Toss with remaining oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes, tossing 3 times.
Sweet potatoes roasted until deeply browned and tossed with a touch of paprika are a great foil for the savory, minerally notes of a miso-dressed kale salad, as noted in Milk Street magazine. The char on the potatoes provides a note of bitterness that balances the richness of the miso. Scallions and cilantro add fresh herbal notes and toasted nuts add crunch. (I switched out pistachios for the walnuts which The Hubs can’t stand.)
This was a perfect side dish for our Deviled Pork Chops entrée. Problem was, the chops took so much longer to cook than the recipe suggested, our sweet potatoes were way overdone by the time the meat was finally ready. And without white miso on hand, we incorporated red miso. Even so, it was still a fabulous pairing.
Don’t dress the salad until just before serving. If left to stand, the kale will turn limp and soggy.
4 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 2¼ pounds), peeled, halved crosswise and cut into 1-inch wedge
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, grated
4 tsp. sherry vinegar
1½ tsp. white miso
5 oz. baby kale
3 scallions, thinly sliced on bias
½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped walnuts or pistachios, toasted
Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread the potatoes in an even layer on the baking sheet and roast until tender and the edges begin to darken, about 30 minutes.
Stir the potatoes, return to the oven and increase to 500°F. Roast until dark spotty brown and slightly crisped, about another 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with paprika, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, then toss.
While the potatoes roast, in a small bowl, stir together the garlic and vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes to mellow the garlic. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the miso and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
When the potatoes are done, in another large bowl, toss together the kale, scallions, cilantro and half the walnuts. Pour in the dressing and toss. Divide the sweet potatoes among serving plates and top with the salad. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts/pistachios.