Winter has truly and deeply settled in our neck of the woods. Although our region does not experience the extreme cold, this year has definitely been colder than the last couple of years. Actually, according to recent reports, it has been the coldest start to winter since the last 30 years! So, gloomy , grey skies, bare trees, chilly winds, hard, frozen grounds and of course, people wrapped in layers of warm clothing are what meets the eye and skin, when one steps out of the house.
Stepping inside the house from the biting cold, there is nothing like being greeted with a warm bowl of stew. Preparing pots of warm flavoursome stews and later sharing them with the family, cupping one’s hands around the bowl…yes it feels like you’ve just received a warm hug.
The following Vegetable and pearl barley stew is one which I make quite frequently during this season. It is very simple to make, but is aromatic at the same time. A number of combinations of vegetables can be added to it. I just throw in whatever I have at the time. I also made some crispy salmony bites to go along with it. They added a nice bite, and I served them on top of the stew like croutons. I love to make this stew with pearl barley, but as I did not have enough, I added some arborio rice as well. You can make this with either of them, it comes out nice and creamy. The salmon is baked, so the stew can be made while the former is baking. Are you a vegetarian? No problem, just give the fish a miss…the stew is completely vegetarian.
Here’s how I made it -
For the stew-
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tblsp of dried oregano
2 tblsp of sundried tomato paste
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed red chillies(more or less)
2 bay leaves
1C pearl barley + 1C arborio rice
1/2 tsp paprika
10 C of stock (may need a little more later)
salt to taste
For the salmony croutons-
12-14 bite sized pieces of salmon (preferably from fillet)
pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pre heat the oven at 250 deg C. Line a baking tray with foil.
- Mix the salmon with the rest of the ingredients and arrange on the lined tray, skin side down.
- Place the tray in the top rack of the pre heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Check to avoid burning.
- Let the fish cool on the tray for a minute and then, gently peel them from the foil.
- While the salmon bakes, make the stew. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onon, carrots, garlic and peas and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add the rice, barley, oregano,chilli, turmeric, paprika, bay leaves and sun dried tomato paste and stir for 6-7 minutes, or till most of the moisture evaporates, and the grains are well coated with the spices.
- Pour 5 C of the stock and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer till the rice and barley are done. Keep stirring in between, adding the rest of the stock gradually. Do not let it dry out, and add some more stock if needed.
- Serve hot and top with the salmony croutons, if making any.
This is one stew that I make over and over again , and we never seem to tire. The salmony croutons are a delight too. We can’t stop at nibbling on a few of these crispy delights even before they make their way to the stew. They really form a nice snack as well. I love the aroma that wafts through the house as I make the stew. It is a very hearty dish.There is so much of grey outside…but this surely brightens up our dining table.