The Real Food Journal
When you think about grilling, it’s usually all about burgers, or corn on the cob, or even pizza. But have you tried grilling cantaloupe? Yes,. when the cantaloupes are heavy on the vine, fat with sweet, juicy goodness, it just happens to be grilling season. So why not grilled cantaloupe?
Like pineapple and peaches, cantaloupe is a natural for the grill. It has a firm enough texture to hold up to the heat, and plenty of sugars to caramelize on the hot grate. If you leave the slices intact, it won’t fall through the bars into the fire, the ultimate waste of a good piece of food. All you need is a little brush of oil, and you are good to go.
Grilled Cantaloupe for Salads, Pastas, or Desserts
I went savory with mine, slicing the grilled crescent moons into bite-sized pieces for a pasta salad. You can also toss it on a green salad, for an unexpected pop of juiciness and color. The grill marks will add curb appeal, as everyone wants to try the melon with a hint of smoke in their salad.
You can also make a dessert of grilled cantaloupe, with a drizzle of honey or chocolate sauce, a scoop of ice cream, or a crumble of cookie over it all.
The lush texture of the melon pairs well with tender pasta, bathed in a tangy vinaigrette. For a creamy, rich companion to the melon, I added diced avocado, to melt in your mouth like a rich cheese. A few crunchy shreds of purple cabbage add crunch and color contrast, and fresh basil gives it some Italian savor.
My garden offers up edible flowers, and I garnished this pasta with nasturtium blossoms. The orange petals complement the pale melon and green avocado, to make the pasta irresistible.
Try grilled cantaloupe, for a savory take on a favorite summer melon.
Grilled Cantaloupe Pasta Salad
Grill your cantaloupe to make it sweeter, and it melts in your mouth in this pasta salad. Creamy avocado and a tangy champagne vinaigrette complete a refreshing summertime meal.
- 1/2 medium cantaloupe sliced in thin wedges and peeled
- canola oil for grilling
- 8 ounces cavatappi or other curly pasta
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium avocado diced in the shell
- 1/2 cup finely sliced red cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh basil slivered
Put on a pot of water to cook the pasta. Preheat the grill.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and rinse. Reserve.
Lightly oil the cantaloupe slices and place on the hot grill, let them sear for a minute before turning, you want nice grill marks. Once they are marked on both sides, put them on a plate and let cool. Slice into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, champagne vinegar, sugar or honey, salt and pepper. Add the pasta, melon, avocado, red cabbage and basil and toss to coat.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The avocado will discolor if you keep it too long.
Purple Barley for a Post-Workout Powerhouse
There’s something special about the post-workout meal. You’ve really earned this one, and you are probably ravenous. So ravenous that you need a big bowlful of food, and pronto. But post-workout is also when you are still thinking about how great it was to feel strong and fit, and you want to eat something that supports all the goals you had while you were sweating it out. A smoothie bowl is a great solution, and may I suggest adding one food to it to make it even more satisfying?
That’s right, post-workout meals with barley are a step up from the usual protein shakes and smoothies. And I’ve found a colorful, nutty-tasting variety of barley that will make you forget about that boring barley you’ve had in soup.
Whole Barley Makes You Lean
I know I’ve been on a bit of a barley binge, of late, but hear me out. Whole barley has been shown to have several weight-loss supporting, blood sugar stabilizing, and cholesterol-lowering qualities. And above all, it keeps you full and happy longer than other foods.
Which is crucial when you have just reset your metabolism with some serious cardio. It’s too easy to spend the rest of the day grazing, because you didn’t have a filling enough meal, post-workout.
In 2010, Dutch researchers found that barley kept blood sugar stable after a meal, probably because the fiber was being gobbled up slowly by good bacteria in the gut, which is a good thing. (Link to study.)
That same slow digestion, caused by the presence of beta glucans fiber, has been shown to keep you full and satisfied longer than other carbohydrates. So you don’t chow down and then feel famished again in an hour. (Link to another study.)
A Purple Piece de Resistance
It’s important to make sure you are eating whole barley, not pearled barley. Pearled barley has had the bran layer scraped off, which takes away many of the minerals and much of the fiber. There’s still beta glucans fiber throughout the endosperm of the grain, so it’s better than white rice, but it’s so much better as a whole grain.
This purple barley is extra special. It’s a variety of Tibetan barley, grown for its flavor and color in the Pacific Northwest. You can buy it online, here. It’s also used to make Tibetan Tsampa, which I wrote about here.
Eat the Rainbow
You always hear that you should “eat the rainbow” to get a broad spectrum of healthy foods. Well, purple barley adds some color to your meal. The color purple in any food is a sign of potent antioxidants, which just add to the healthful aura of this beautiful, tasty grain.
So seek out some purple barley, and cook up a pot for the week. The grains cook up fat and gorgeous, and they snap a little bit when you chew them. Spread them on this smoothie bowl, or eat them anywhere you might have eaten rice, oats or even pasta.
Tibetan Purple Barley on a Cherry Almond Smoothie Bowl
Cook some beautiful purple barley, put it in the refrigerator, and you can make this bowl for breakfast the next morning.
- 1/2 cup purple barley
- 2 cup yogurt or non-dairy yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large frozen banana
- 3 cups frozen sweet cherries
- honey optional
- 1/2 medium Dragonfruit scooped with a melonballer
- 10 large strawberries sliced
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds toasted
Cook the barley in plenty of water for about 40 minutes, simmering over low heat. Drain the barley and chill, drizzle with honey if desired.
In the blender, place the yogurt, almond extract, and cherries. Cover and select Variable Speed 1, turn on the machine, and increase the speed to High. Blend until very smooth.
Pour the blended ingredients into two low bowls, and garnish with barley, melon balls, strawberries, and almonds. Drizzle with honey if desired.
Turnips never make the list of sexy vegetables. I haven’t yet heard that turnips will be the “new kale,” but who knows, maybe the fruity crunch of Hakurei Turnips will change all that.
Unlike the usual purple tinged, pink, or just kind of rough looking over-wintered turnip, these Hakurei turnips are a joy to eat raw. All you have to do is start peeling and you can feel how tender they are, yielding to your paring knife like an apple. The sweet, slightly cabbagey scent lets you know that they are fresh and succulent.
The Hakurei is Made for Salad
Sometimes called a “salad turnip,” or “Tokyo turnip,” Hakurei is a variety bred for crunch and smoothness on the palate. The pristine white skin is more akin to a just picked parsnip than a turnip.
As the name would imply, the Hakurei is of Japanese origin. It’s not new, but they seem to only appear in Summer, in better stocked produce departments and farmer’s markets. They are just so pretty that I keep buying them, and I’m never disappointed. They have a fruity, slightly earthy flavor, with lots of juicy snap. The rooty, bitter notes of other turnips are nowhere to be found.
Not that I don’t like the other kinds, check out this recipe for Turnips Three Ways.
Like all turnips, they are high in Vitamin C, and the greens are even more nutritious. They are right up there with kale, nutritionally, full of Vitamin A, K, C, folate, copper, calcium, and cancer-preventing glucosinalates. My greens were kind of wilted by the time I got them home, so I didn’t put them in the salad this time, but you certainly should when they are fresh. I saved them for a saute later.
So if you see some mysteriously pale turnips in your CSA, at the Farmer’s Market, or at the grocery store, give them a try. They will be in season all summer long, to add variety to your same old salads.
Try this Asian-inspired salad, with a dressing that takes about 2 minutes to make. It’s so easy.
Big Salad with Hakurei Turnip and Hemp-Tamarind Dressing
A little chopping and a simple dressing pack lots of flavor and texture, showing off the sweet, tender Hakurei Turnip to full effect.
- 4 cups sliced Nappa cabbage use part turnip greens, if fresh and crisp
- 2 large carrots shredded
- 2 stalks broccoli cut in florets
- 4 large red radishes julienned
- 2 medium Hakurei Turnips julienned
- 4 handfuls pea shoots trimmed
- 1/4 cup hemp oil
- 1/4 cup tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 teapoons fresh ginger minced
- hemp seeds for garnish
Prep all the vegetables, and arrange them on four dinner plates, in order.
In a cup, mix the oil, tamarind, tamari and ginger. If your tamarind is very thick, stir in a little water to make a pourable dressing.
Serve salads drizzled with dressing and sprinkled with hemp seeds.
Are you bored with berries? Maybe apples make you yawn, and a slice of watermelon fills you with overwhelming ennui? You need to step out on your usual fruit loves and try something new. Might I suggest a trip to your local Asian market to seek out some exotic Asian fruit?
Experiment with Asian Fruit
I’m lucky, here in Minneapolis, to have United Noodles as a resource. If you live in the area, you need to know that they plan to showcase at least a dozen new and exciting fruits all summer long. Wherever you live, you should be able to find a store carrying one of these delightful delicacies.
Dragonfruit is having a moment, thanks to it’s instagrammable beauty. With a pink and green exterior that might bring a dragon to mind, it holds a firm, melon-like flesh dotted with tiny black seeds. The flavor is not as sweet as some fruit, slightly reminiscent of kiwi, but when perfectly ripe, it’s sweet enough to please. To use it, simply halve the fruit lengthwise, then you can either scoop it out as a solid piece and slice it, or use a melon baller, as I did.
Korean Melons have perfumey white flesh, a little crisper than a cantaloupe, and taste like a honeydew and a cucumber had a baby. They are small enough to serve one or two, making them perfect for solo dining. They also make a great serving bowl for this fruit salad. Handle them like any small melon, scooping out the seeds and using the rest.
Lychee has been on the menu at Chinese restaurants for as long as I can remember, served as a dessert. That was canned lychee, and now that fresh ones are more available, it’s worth another try. Peel off the craggy skin and a pale white fruit shaped like an opalescent grape pops out, with a fragrance reminiscent of roses. The flavor is very sweet, with hints of cherries and bananas. Lychee is having a moment in the cocktail world, often speared as a gorgeous garnish for Asian fruit flavored drinks. To use it, slice through the thin shell and pop out the fruit, then remove the inedible seed in the middle.
The most startling of all the Asian fruit, the Mangosteen has a ruddy skin that hides a pithy layer, kind of like an orange, which pulls away easily from the pale white segmented fruit. The flavor has hints of peach, vanilla ice cream, and pineapple, with plenty of sweetness and acid for a truly delicious mouthful. To use, slice into the skin to reach the fruit, then peel like an orange, divide the segments, and trim out the seeds if they are large.
One of the most exotic looking of the Asian fruits, rambutan is the one that looks like a red ball that grew thick strands of tangled hair. (My cat decided that they looked just like his favorite toy and insisted on stealing them during the photo shoot.) The greyish fruit inside has a pineapple and cherry flavor with good acid and sweet balance. The texture is like that of a grape, with an inedible seed in the center. To use, simply slice through the skin, peel it back, and pop out the fruit.
The longan is called “dragon’s eye” in China, because once you pop the orb from the thin brown skin, it looks like an eyeball. Don’t be put off, longan is reminiscent of a sweeter lychee, with duskier, floral aromas to make you swoon. The pale, translucent flesh holds a black seed in the center, which you can either trim or simply eat around. To use, score the skin around the shoulder, peel it back and pop out the fruit.
A Simple Dish to Showcase Asian Fruit
To showcase the unique flavors and textures of all these fruits, I decided to simply bathe them in a simple lime-infused syrup and add some fresh spearmint. When you try them for the first time, plan to eat plenty of them out of hand, just to get acquainted. Then you can play with them in all your favorite fruity applications. Sorbets and mixed drinks are a perfect use, although they take away the textural elements. Adding a few peeled and seeded lychee or longan to a noodle of vegetable salad is a fun surprise.
Try some Asian fruit today, and let your imagination run wild. Your usual berries and watermelon don’t need to know that you have been seeing other fruits.
Asian Fruits in Lime Syrup with Mint
Exotic, perfumey fruits need only a simple syrup with a little lime to shine. If you can't find all the fruits, get what you can and enjoy!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 large lime zest pared off in a strip
- 1 medium dragonfruit
- 1 medium Korean Melon
- 8 large rambutan
- 10 large lychee
- 10 large longan
- 8 large mangosteen
- several stems fresh spearmint torn
- spearmint for garnish
In a small pot, combine the sugar, water, and lime zest strips. Bring to a boil, stirring, and reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool with the lime zest in the mix.
Halve the dragonfruit and use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh into a large bowl, reserving the shell to use as a bowl. Halve and seed the melon, and use the melon baller to scoop the flesh, reserving the shell.
Use a sharp paring knife to score the skin of each fruit and slip out the soft fruits. The skin of the mangosteen is thicker, and the white segments will slip apart easily once it is peeled.
Add the mint to the fruit in the bowl. Drizzle the cold syrup over the fruit and toss gently, then portion into the reserved shells. Serve immediately.
I know that the internet is full to the brim with gorgeously staged smoothie bowls, and this is not one of them. Call it a naturalistic approach. This isn’t something I styled and then threw away after an hour under the lights. I made it after a long bike ride, and I was Hungry. Hungry with a capital H. That #postworkout meal is one that cannot be denied, and it’s a perfect time for matcha.
A smoothie bowl is a great way to eat a bunch of superfoods, and kale, hemp, blueberries and yogurt are all champions of the superfoods lists.
A teaspoon of magical matcha green tea added even more health benefits. If you haven’t gotten on the matcha bandwagon yet, now is a good time to start. Regular, brewed green tea is always recommended for a metabolism boosting, cancer-preventing drink. Matcha is not brewed, it’s actually whole green tea leaves that have been steamed, dried and ground to a powder, so you are getting the whole leaf, not just the bits that steep out in hot water.
One cup of matcha tea has the antioxidants of ten cups of brewed green tea, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Matcha has catechins, an antioxidant that protects you from cell damage. It also has L-theanine, an amino acid that helps you focus, which is complemented by a gentle caffeine kick. The caffeine in tea is a little different from that of coffee, tea contains theine, which is more suited to meditation than the kind of road rage inducing caffeine in coffee.
For my smoothie bowl, I started with the liquid base- using thick coconut milk yogurt, but you can use any sort of yogurt you like. Don’t fear the fat, whatever you do. Your brain and body need it, and you will stay full longer with a bit of fat in there.
Then I piled in some baby kale mix, for vitamins, minerals, and even a bit of protein. A big fat frozen banana for creamy sweetness, and my potassium for the day.
Hemp seeds gave me a bit of protein and more healthy fats, and in the powerful vortex of the Vitamix, melted into the smoothie.
Once the thick, creamy smoothie is in the bowl, you just top it with fruit, chia and hemp, and a drizzle of agave or honey.
That teaspoon of matcha kept me feeling great for hours, and undoubtedly ran some interference to protect my body from the ravages of age.
Gotta love that!
Matcha Kale and Hemp Smoothie Bowl with Fruit
You'll need a powerful blender, like a Vitamix, to make this thick, spoonable treat.
- 1 cup yogurt your choice, unsweetened
- 2 cups baby kale packed
- 1 large frozen banana
- 1 teaspoon matcha plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds plus more for garnish
- 1/2 small nectarine sliced
- a handful blueberries
- chia seeds
- honey or agave for drizzling
Place the yogurt, kale, banana, matcha and hemp in the blender. Use the tamper to press the ingredients down into the blades as you increase the speed to high. When it is smooth, pour into a wide, low bowl.
Top with nectarines, blueberries, hemp and chia seeds, honey or agave, and couple of pinches of matcha.
If you read last week’s post, you know that I’ve been playing around with beautiful naked barleys from Oregon. This week is another installment in the theme. Instead of making rolled barley into bars or pudding, I ground whole, naked barley into flour and made cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies, just simple, easy cookies to really see what barley tastes like in a dessert. You see, barley has some gluten, but not as much as wheat. That makes it closer to a pastry flour than a bread flour, and that’s what you want in a cookie.
But my question was, could I pull off a vegan, low-gluten barley flour cookie, with only ground flax to act as a binder? As you can see by these photos, the cookies were a complete success, with no crumbling or breaking to mar a stack shot.
Coconut oil is the other secret ingredient, and it works really well in this cookie. The natural balance of fats in coconut oil makes it solid at room temperature, so the mouthfeel is like butter, once they are baked. I’ve found that treats made with coconut oil stay crisp longer than most baked goods, too. I use refined coconut oil in baking when I don’t really want a coconut flavor, just the richness.
The paleness of the naked barley makes the flour light in color, so nobody will suspect that they are eating whole grains.
Who cares, when you are enjoying a fabulous fat chocolate chip cookie?
Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies
Whole, hulless barley is easy to grind for a fresh flour, and makes an irresistible cookie. I made these as a birthday treat, and they were a big hit!
- 205 grams hull-less barley about 1 1/2 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon ground golden flax seed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
In the dry grinding container or the regular container of your Vitamix, grind the barley for at least 1 minute. Dump out into a large bowl to cool. Stir in the baking soda and salt
In another large bowl, combine the coconut oil and brown sugar and cream with a fork. In a cup, stir the milk and flax and let stand for a few minutes, then stir into the coconut oil mixture, and add the vanilla, stir in.
Stir the flour into the coconut oil mixture, and when mixed, stir in the chocolate chips. Use a 1/4 cup scoop to portion the dough onto the pans, leaving at least 2 inches between the cookies. They will spread.
Bake for 6 minutes, then reverse positions of the pans and bake for 6 minutes longer. When the edges are browned and crispy and the middles still look soft, take out and cool on racks. Let them cool on the pan completely before transferring to a plate.
These keep at room temperature, tightly covered, for a week, if you don't eat them all immediately.
These cookies are whole grain and vegan, but don't tell anyone. If you miss the flavor of butter you can always use grass-fed butter for coconut oil. If you don't have barley, you can make these with whole wheat pastry flour, too.
Barley doesn’t get much play these days. This ancient grain was once the staff of life in some parts of the world. Analysis of archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent find genetic evidence of it being domesticated and cultivated there 10,000 years ago. Barley is mentioned in the bible, and the ancient Egyptians made it into flatbreads. Roman Gladiators were fueled by barley, and the empire marched on with their barley in tow. The Tibetans took barley and made it their most iconic food, and to this day, eat barley Tsampa on a daily basis.
Now, well, you might have it in soup now and again. You probably don’t even think about the barley in your beer. That’s because wheat became the preferred grain, thanks to the higher gluten content made it better for bread making.
It’s time that we learn to enjoy barley in more than just soup. Like this Purple Tibetan Barley Pudding.
Our seeming indifference toward barley should be changing, if the Oregon State University Barleyworld project has its way. They sent me some amazing barley from the farms that are working with them to grow barley that is tastier and better than ever. With the help of some dedicated breeders and chemists, the program intends to make #barleyalwaysgreatagain.
A product I have been hoping would take off in a big way is rolled barley. Everyone is familiar with rolled oats, which have the health benefit of reducing cholesterol. Well, when you roll barley, you get the same kind of easy to use, tasty flakes. And barley actually has more of the beta-glucans fiber that helps take cholesterol out of the body. So rolled barley is even more heart-healthy that rolled oats, and you can use it in your favorite cookies, bars, porridges and everything else.
Purple Tibetan Barley is an ancient grain, and used for making Tsampa in Tibet for centuries. I wrote about Tsampa here. Purple and blue barleys are gorgeous, and their bran layers are packed with antioxidant pigments. Purple is a sign of anthocyanins, the same purple pigments that make blueberries the darlings of the antioxidant-rich superfood lists.
All whole barleys are high in calcium, potassium, Iron, and skin protecting selenium. If you want just one reason to seek out this heart protective, pre-biotic grain, think of how great it is for your skin. Go ahead and be shallow, the anthocyanins prevent premature aging at a cellular level. It will take care of your whole body anyway.
So start seeing barley, and we can make #barleyalwaysgreatagain!
Purple Tibetan Barley Pudding with Fruit
Show off a beautifully colored grain in a rich pudding, where it tints the milk and gives it a lovely chewiness. You can make this any time of year, just use the fruit that is best in the moment.
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk or coconut milk for vegans
- 1 1/2 cups Rolled Purple Tibetan Barley
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup wildflower honey plus more for drizzling
- 2 large egg yolks or 1 tbs arrowroot for vegans
- 2 cups seasonal fruit
- stirred Greek yogurt optional garnish
Combine the milk, barley and salt in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Stir occasionally, and cook for about 30 minutes.
When the barley is soft, take off the heat. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk, honey and egg yolks together in a bowl, then quickly stir them into the hot barley. Stirring constantly, return to the heat and cook for a minute to cook the eggs. Transfer to a glass storage container or bowl and chill.
Serve scooped into bowls, topped with chopped fruit and drizzled with yogurt and honey.
The original “slider” is well-known as greasy junk food. They are fast food mini burgers sold by the sackful that leave the consumer feeling kind of sick and guilty. I guess that they are called sliders because they are well-lubricated to slide right down. The one good thing about them, that has spawned an ocean of imitators, is the size.
Now we call any mini-burger a slider, and chefs are making lobster sliders on brioche buns, and other upscale versions of the three bite burger. There is something so fun about having two or three teeny burgers for dinner, instead of one big one. Sliders also fit in the “small plates” trend, since you can have a slider as part of a series of small taste. You can even put them out as appetizers.
Of course, my sliders are perfect for a Meatless Monday meal, because they are made with super flavorful tofu burgers. I love tofu burgers, especially when they are packed with flavorful stuff like artichokes and walnuts, and laced with fresh thyme and Dijon mustard. To make sure the buns are deserving of our attention, I opted to make fresh, whole wheat biscuits. They are a little more fragile than bread buns, but they are much easier and faster to make.
I’ve been working with a locally milled flour, a soft white wheat produced by Baker’s Field Flour and Bread in Minneapolis.
It’s sold as an all-purpose flour in a few select stores around the Twin Cities, and we are lucky to have access to freshly milled, unique flours like this. If you can grind your own in the blender, buy a soft white whole wheat. I’ve gotten it from Bob’s Red Mill. Or, you can always buy whole wheat pastry flour. The main thing is to have a lower gluten flour, so the biscuits won’t be tough. I went ahead and used some grass-fed butter in the biscuits, but you can keep it vegan by using coconut oil.
For the tofu burgers, just make sure you have the firmest tofu you can find, and don’t crush it too finely. You need a little texture to it, for a burger. Artichoke bottoms are the best, if you haven’t tried them, seek them out. They are the best part of the artichoke, without all the shaggy, hard leaf at the top.
Little food is so fun, I hope that you will have some fun with these sliders.
White Whole Wheat Biscuits in Artichoke Walnut Tofu Sliders
Bake up some warm biscuits and tasty mini-tofuburgers in the same hot oven, and serve with a quick dijon-mayo spread.
- 2 cups soft white whole wheat flour 250 g
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or clabbered soymilk
- 18 ounces extra firm tofu drained
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 14 ounces canned artichoke bottoms drained and patted dry, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces finely chopped
- 11 leaves red butter lettuce
- 11 slices tomato
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise your favorite
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using the large holes of a grater, grate in the cold butter, gently tossing to coat with flour. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk or clabbered soymilk. Stir just until a rough shaggy mass forms. Lightly flour a counter and scrape the dough out, pat into a rectangle, then fold in thirds. Pat out to 3/4 inch thick and cut into biscuits with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment lined pan. Pat the scraps together and press into the biscuit cutter to form the final biscuits.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are dry and the bottoms are browned. Cool on pans on racks.
For the burgers, wrap the tofu in a towel to blot dry, press to remove any extra moisture. Crumble into a large bowl. Drain the artichoke bottoms and pat dry, then divide in half. Mince half and add to the bowl. To a food processor, add the oats and grind to a chunky powder. Add the second half of the artichoke bottoms and process to coarsely puree. Scrape into the bowl, and add the thyme, shallots, dijon, salt, and walnut pieces. Mix with your hands, squeezing to make the mixture hold together.
Scoop 1/4 cup portions onto the second prepared pan, leaving an inch between the portions. Lightly oil your palms and flatten the portions to make 3/4 inch thick burgers.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until firm and a little crusty. Mix the mayo and dijon in a small bowl. Serve on split biscuits, with lettuce, tomato and dijon mayo,.
These can be vegan, if you measure the coconut oil and then chill it, then grate it into the flour mixture. To clabber soymilk, pour a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup and add soymilk to make 3/4 cup.
The rhubarb plants in my garden don’t care whether I ever get around to them. Every Spring, their crinkled leaves start growing under a coating of snow or ice, sure in the knowledge that it will soon pass. The moment the snow melts, they unfurl with great resolution and optimism. You can’t stop the rhubarb. It wants to be rhubarb bars.
And then they take over the back quadrant of the garden, with leaves the size of elephant ears that shade out the weeds. Every time I walk past, I think, what am I going to make with that rhubarb? Some years, deep in a cookbook project or two, I’ve done nothing more complex than throw them in a pan with some sugar and cook them into a compote. Nothing wrong with toast and rhubarb.
Other years, I’ve had time to make a pretty tart where the rhubarb looks like the spokes of a wheel.
Of the tasty rhubarb scones that even freeze well for later in the summer, when you don’t want to bake.
This year, I wanted to take a treat for the my mindfulness and meditation class. We’ve been together for eight weeks now, doing our best to be in the present moment. Our last class will be bittersweet. These rhubarb bars will be sweet and tangy to go with it.
I’ve also been fooling around with rolled barley. I’m always into whole grains, so when I got a package of rolled “Streaker Barley” from Oregon, I thought I should give it a try. The name, “streaker,” harks back to the fad of running naked, or streaking, at various public events. I’m not sure that the kids today know what streaking is, but we folks who survived the 70’s do. And why would barley be named for a moment of exhibitionism in our shared history?
Because it’s naked barley. You see, most people only make the acquaintance of pearled barley. Traditional barley varieties have the distinction of having a hull that is very hard to remove, so it became the norm to process them by scraping off not just the inedible hull, but also the bran layer. So pearled barley cooks more quickly, gives off bountiful starches to thicken a broth, and has fewer of the health giving qualities that come from bran.
But not naked barley. Naked barley gets its name from the fact that its hull is easily removed, like other whole grains. So it’s naked- get it? And it streaks across the plate, unashamed. Naked, or hull-less barleys cook up more like whole wheat berries, with a long cooking time and a sturdy bran layer that pops when you chew it.
The folks out at The Oregon State Barley Project are working on breeding varieties of barley that grow well in the Pacific Northwest, and finding good uses for them. They are even using a participatory breeding program, working in collaboration with farmers to improve the variety with each successive generation. This barley was grown by Hunton’s Farm, a family farm for 60 years. From there, it was taken to a local mill and flattened into rolled barley, so that I could make it into these bars.
This was a good recipe to try out with barley, to see just how different it would be from rolled oats. Rolled barley is a little thicker and sturdier than even thick, old-fashioned oats, and I like it. It’s almost crisp before you bake it, so there’s no chance of a soggy bar. I made these vegan, with coconut oil for the fat, and kept it simple so I could really taste the barley.
I have to say, the rolled barley is even better for a crumble bar than oats, because of the crunchy, chewy, assertive texture of the grain. It’s also got a little more nuance to the flavor, with all the mild sweetness of oats with a tiny hint of bitterness. The tanginess of rhubarb might well overwhelm another grain, but the barley holds its own.
Pretty good for a naked grain!
Rhubarb Bars with Sliced Almonds
Instead of oats, give rolled barley a try in these tasty bars. Rhubarb gives them a tart, sweet center, while the barley and almonds give it lots of crunch. A drizzle of lemon glaze gives it a special touch.
- 2 cups rolled barley
- 2 cups unbleached flour or half whole wheat pastry
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk plus a little more
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb about a pound
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Oil a 9x13 inch baking pan and reserve. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, combine the rolled barley, flour, brown sugar and salt. Drizzle in the coconut oil and toss to mix in, then stir in the milk. Scoop out 2 cups of the chunkiest part into a medium bowl, and toss with the almonds. Drizzle in a little more milk as needed to make the remaining clumps into a dough. Press into the pan.
In a medium pot, combine the rhubarb and sugar and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer as the juices come out of the rhubarb. When the rhubarb is softened and juicy, whisk the milk and arrowroot in a cup, then stir into the simmering rhubarb. Stir until thick. Take off the heat.
Spread the rhubarb over the bottom crust, the top with the almond mixture.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the juices are bubbling up around the edges and the topping is browned. Cool on a rack. For the neatest slices, refrigerate until completely cold. Cut 4 by 6.